Research in The Journal of Pain has found that many American adults have recently experienced some level of pain, ranging from brief to chronic and from relatively minor to more severe. The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH).

For this study, data from the from the 2012 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) on frequency and intensity of self-reported pain experienced by adults in the prior three months was analyzed; a pain severity coding system was applied to group participants into categories based on pain persistence, bothersomeness, and pain levels ranging from 1 (low) to 4 (high).

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Overall 55.7% experienced some type of pain in the three months prior to the survey, which is an estimated 126 million adults total in the U.S . About 11.2% stated that they were suffering from chronic pain, about 25.3 million adults. and 10.3% reporting experiencing a lot of pain, or 23.4 million adults. About 6.4% were classified as having category 4 while 11.3% experienced category 3 pain. Those with category 3 or 4 pain were likely to have worse health status, to use more health care, and to suffer from more disability than those with less severe pain. Yet, about half of those with the most severe pain still rated their overall health as good or better. Women, older individuals, and non-Hispanics were more likely to report any pain while Asians were less likely. Minorities who did not choose to be interviewed in English were also less likely to report pain.

Lead author Richard L. Nahin, PhD, MPH, stated that these results could help to identify sub-populations that would benefit from additional pain treatment options.

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