Prevalence of Chronic Pain in a Representative Sample in the United States
Article first published online: 11 MAR 2008
© American Academy of Pain Medicine
Volume 9, Issue 7, pages 803–812, October 2008
How to Cite
Hardt, J., Jacobsen, C., Goldberg, J., Nickel, R. and Buchwald, D. (2008), Prevalence of Chronic Pain in a Representative Sample in the United States. Pain Medicine, 9: 803–812. doi: 10.1111/j.1526-4637.2008.00425.x
- Issue published online: 23 SEP 2008
- Article first published online: 11 MAR 2008
- Chronic Pain;
- Back Pain;
- Regional Pain;
- Widespread Pain;
Objective. Chronic pain is a common reason for seeking medical care. We estimated the prevalence of chronic regional and widespread pain in the United States population overall, and by age, sex, and race/ethnicity.
Setting. We examined the data from 10,291 respondents who participated in the 1999–2002 NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey) and completed a pain questionnaire. Items allowed classification of chronic (≥3 months) pain as regional or widespread. We used regression models to test the association of sex and race/ethnicity with each pain outcome, adjusting for age.
Results. Chronic pain prevalence estimates were 10.1% for back pain, 7.1% for pain in the legs/feet, 4.1% for pain in the arms/hands, and 3.5% for headache. Chronic regional and widespread pain were reported by 11.0% and 3.6% of respondents, respectively. Women had higher odds than men for headache, abdominal pain, and chronic widespread pain. Mexican-Americans had lower odds compared with non-Hispanic whites and blacks for chronic back pain, legs/feet pain, arms/hands pain, and regional and widespread pain.
Conclusion. The population prevalence of chronic pain in the United States was lower than previously reported, with smaller sex-related differences and some variation by race/ethnicity.