Chronic pain may cost U.S. $635 billion a year

September 14, 2012
Chronic pain may cost U.S. $635 billion a year
Health care expenses, lost productivity included in estimate.

(HealthDay)—Americans spend as much as $635 billion each year on the direct and indirect costs associated with chronic pain, according to a new study.

That's more than the annual costs associated with cancer, heart disease and diabetes, said study authors Darrell Gaskin and Patrick Richard, health economists at Johns Hopkins University. They based their estimate on and lost worker productivity associated with .

The researches analyzed the 2008 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey to measure the incremental health care costs for people affected by chronic pain—including pain that interferes with work, , arthritis and disabilities—and compared them to costs for people without chronic pain. The study involved more than 20,200 U.S. adults.

The costs of certain conditions were calculated for a variety of payers of , the researchers noted.

The study, published in the Journal of Pain, found average health care costs for adults were $4,475. People suffering from paid $4,516 more in health care costs than those without pain, the researchers said. Patients with severe pain spent $3,210 more than people with only moderate pain. Costs were also $4,048 higher for those with joint pain, $5,838 higher for people with arthritis and $9,680 more for those with .

When prevalence of pain conditions was assessed, moderate pain accounted for 10 percent, accounted for 11 percent and disability represented 12 percent. Estimates for joint pain and arthritis were higher. They accounted for 33 percent and 25 percent of prevalence estimates, respectively.

The researchers noted that adults affected by chronic pain missed more workdays than people without pain. This affected their annual hours worked and hourly wages. The study concluded the total cost associated with pain in the United States was at least $560 billion and possibly as high as $635 billion, according to a release from the American Pain Society.

Broken down, the total incremental costs of health care resulting from chronic pain ranged from $261 billion to $300 billion. And the costs associated with lost productivity ranged from $299 billion to $334 billion. Although the per-person cost of pain is less than the cost of other diseases, the researchers said the total cost of chronic pain is higher. They said the costs associated with chronic pain would be even greater if they took into account nursing home residents, military personnel, prisoners, children and caregivers.

Explore further: Better chronic pain management

More information:
The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke provides more information on chronic pain.


Related Stories

Better chronic pain management

August 15, 2011
Pain care management needs to be improved, with health care professionals committing to improve care as well as a retooling of the health care system to help people who are suffering, states an editorial in CMAJ (Canadian ...

Study shows early brain changes predict which patients develop chronic pain

July 1, 2012
When people have similar injuries, why do some end up with chronic pain while others recover and are pain free? The first longitudinal brain imaging study to track participants with a new back injury has found the chronic ...

Recommended for you

New study offers insights on genetic indicators of COPD risk

January 16, 2018
Researchers have discovered that genetic variations in the anatomy of the lungs could serve as indicators to help identify people who have low, but stable, lung function early in life, and those who are particularly at risk ...

Previous influenza virus exposures enhance susceptibility in another influenza pandemic

January 16, 2018
While past exposure to influenza A viruses often builds immunity to similar, and sometimes different, strains of the virus, Canadian researchers are calling for more attention to exceptions to that rule.

Don't hold your nose and close your mouth when you sneeze, doctors warn

January 15, 2018
Pinching your nose while clamping your mouth shut to contain a forceful sneeze isn't a good idea, warn doctors in the journal BMJ Case Reports.

New antifungal provides hope in fight against superbugs

January 12, 2018
Microscopic yeast have been wreaking havoc in hospitals around the world—creeping into catheters, ventilator tubes, and IV lines—and causing deadly invasive infection. One culprit species, Candida auris, is resistant ...

Dengue takes low and slow approach to replication

January 11, 2018
A new study reveals how dengue virus manages to reproduce itself in an infected person without triggering the body's normal defenses. Duke researchers report that dengue pulls off this hoax by co-opting a specialized structure ...

Different strains of same bacteria trigger widely varying immune responses

January 11, 2018
Genetic differences between different strains of the same pathogenic bacterial species appear to result in widely varying immune system responses, according to new research published in PLOS Pathogens.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.