Pain Awareness Month: Prevalence of Chronic Pain
ICYMI: In recognition of Pain Awareness Month, we are diving deep into the issues that impact the chronic pain community. This post is the first in our Pain Awareness Month blog series that we previewed here.
To understand the challenges facing the chronic pain community, it’s critical to understand who makes up this population. Marked as the “silent epidemic,” there are currently an estimated 100 million Americans living with chronic pain. According to the American Academy of Pain Medicine, chronic pain affects more Americans than diabetes, heart disease and cancer combined. From a global perspective, an estimated 1.5 billion people worldwide suffer from chronic pain. The numbers are alarming, and yet, most are unaware either because chronic pain can’t be seen, or because defining it is hard.
Unlike acute pain, which goes away after the original injury heals, chronic pain is defined as pain that persists for three months or longer. This is an important distinction since those with chronic pain have typically been living with pain on a daily basis over an extended period of time. Because chronic and acute pain are often grouped in the same category, the chronic pain community may struggle to articulate the difference to those who have never experienced long-term pain. The ‘invisible’ illness leaves them not just trying to get through the day but left to explain why they can’t easily complete simple day-to-day tasks.
When talking about chronic pain, there are also are number of different conditions that exist, from lower back pain to arthritic and joint pain to neuropathic pain. For example, 31 million Americans experience lower back pain during their lifetime and an estimated 54 million Americans annually are told they have some form of arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, lupus, or fibromyalgia.
But what’s even more disheartening is hearing the numbers associated with pain management, control and relief. For the 100 million Americans currently living with chronic pain, more than half report little to no control over their pain, with two-thirds stating that their pain impacts their overall enjoyment of life.
We need to support the chronic pain community by developing new treatment methods that help those with chronic pain reclaim their lives, once and for all. Here at NeuroMetrix, we’re committed to doing just that.
Be sure to check out next week’s blog post, which will take a look at the notion of the “pain scale” and debunk the way pain relief is perceived. Subscribe to LivingQuell to make sure you don’t miss a post, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more Pain Awareness Month updates.
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