| arthritis

Chronic Pain—Including Migraine—on the Rise

Pain Prevalence “increased substantially during the study period”

Findings from the 2002 to 2018 National Health Interview Survey for adults aged 25 to 84 are discouraging. Pain prevalence—for headache/migraine, joint, low back, neck, facial/jaw pain—has gone up, with people reporting a 10% increase of pain in at least 1 area. That equals an additional 10.5 million people in pain. The study also acknowledges the greater differences in socioeconomics, along with the links among health behaviors and psychological distress. The findings were published in the journal Demography. The prevalence of headache/migraine increased 5%.

A coauthor of the article, Hanna Grol-Prokopczyk, associate professor of sociology in the University at Buffalo College of Arts and Sciences, commented, “We looked at the data from every available perspective including age, gender, race, ethnicity, education, and income, but the results were always the same: There was an increase in pain no matter how we classified the population. You might think that with medical advances we’d be getting healthier and experiencing less pain, but the data strongly suggest the exact opposite.” The study:

1) Documents “steep, sustained, and pervasive increases in chronic pain among Americans across the adult life span”

2) Found “key correlates of the rise in pain prevalence include not only specific diagnoses, such as arthritis, but also psychological distress, increased body weight, and heavier alcohol use—factors that highlight the psychosocial roots of pain in populations”

3) States that because chronic pain “links to both physical and psychological well-being” it “could be conceptualized as a holistic measure of population health and could supplement the disability and longevity measures that have long been the central focus of health demography”

4) Supports “the need for broad interdisciplinary research on, and interventions for effective responses to, the growing problem of pain in the United States”


Read the journal article.

Read the press release.