Chronic Pain Medicine

Chronic Pain: What You Need to Know

This post originally appeared on Medline: Chronic pain.

Chronic pain becomes more common as people grow older, at least in part because some health problems that can cause pain, such as osteoarthritis, become more common with advancing age. Military veterans are another group at increased risk for chronic pain; U.S. national survey data show that both pain in general and severe pain are more common among veterans than nonveterans. Chronic pain is more common in rural areas than urban areas in the United States.

Analysis of data from the 2010–2017 NHIS Sample Adult Core and Adult Functioning and Disability Supplement show that prevalence of chronic pain varies by race and Hispanic origin, with a recent publication suggesting the highest percentage among non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaska Native respondents and the lowest among non-Hispanic Asians. 

Not all people with chronic pain have a health problem diagnosed by a health care provider, but among those who do, the most frequent conditions are low-back pain or osteoarthritis, according to a national survey. Other common diagnoses include rheumatoid arthritis, migraine, carpal tunnel syndrome, and fibromyalgia.

Chronic pain may result from an underlying disease or health condition, an injury, medical treatment (such as surgery), inflammation, or a problem in the nervous system (in which case it is called “neuropathic pain”); or the cause may be unknown. Pain can affect quality of life and productivity, and it may be accompanied by difficulty in moving around, disturbed sleep, anxiety, depression, and other problems.1

For more information about chronic pain, visit the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website.

1Certain chronic conditions, several of which cause pain, may occur together; some individuals have two or more of these problems. These conditions include chronic fatigue syndrome, endometriosis, fibromyalgia, interstitial cystitis (painful bladder syndrome), irritable bowel syndrome, temporomandibular joint dysfunction, and vulvodynia (chronic vulvar pain). It is not known whether these disorders share a common cause.

This post originally appeared on Medline: Chronic pain.