CDC: 1 in 5 Americans suffer from chronic pain

Hydrocodone opioid pills
The CDC estimates that 20% of Americans suffer from chronic pain. (Getty/smartstock)

Nearly 20 million Americans suffer from chronic pain that interferes with their daily activities, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC reviewed the 2016 National Health Interview Survey, which includes responses from more than 17,000 adults, and found that 1 in 5 Americans, or about 50 million people, suffer from chronic pain.

Of those, 8%, or about 19.6 million, suffer from pain that interferes with their daily lives.

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Women, the elderly, the poor and people in rural areas are especially at risk for chronic pain, according to the report.

RELATED: Little-discussed collateral: Patients with chronic pain lose access to needed medications

In the wake of the opioid epidemic, physicians have been pushed to significant curb their opioid prescriptions to prevent patients from becoming addicted. However, many doctors struggle to strike a balance between caring for patients with chronic, debilitating pain and meeting new standards and guidelines for opioid prescriptions.

The CDC researchers said that painting a clearer picture of who is suffering most from chronic pain can be used to develop more effective and targeted therapies to manage their conditions.

“Pain is a component of many chronic conditions, and chronic pain is emerging as a health concern on its own, with negative consequences to individual persons, their families and society as whole,” the researchers said.

The study comes on the heels of further research from the CDC that indicates chronic pain may be a contributing factor to a patient’s suicide risk.

RELATED: CDC report about record-high rates of STDs renews concerns of ‘untreatable’ superbugs

The researchers examined more than 123,000 suicide deaths reported between January 2003 and December 2014, and found that more than 10,789, or 8.8%, showed evidence of chronic pain.

The annual rate increased over the course of the study. In 2003, 7.4% of the suicide deaths included in the study were linked to chronic pain, and that rate increased to 10.2% in 2014.

“Chronic pain may be an important contributor to suicide,” the researchers said. “Access to quality, comprehensive pain care and adherence to clinical guidelines may help improve pain management and pain safety.”

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