27 Chronic Pain Statistics Everyone Should Know

written by / February 8, 2020

Unlike acute pain, which only lasts for a short period of time after an injury, chronic pain persists for weeks, months, and sometimes years. 

Living with chronic pain is difficult. It has a negative impact on a person’s quality of life, mood, and stamina and leads to stress and poor health.

Another important factor is the relationship between chronic pain and sleep problems, which persists in a vicious cycle. The chronic pain statistics show that people with chronic pain don’t get the sleep they need, while those who lack sleep are more at risk of developing chronic pain syndrome.

You shouldn’t let pain control your life, so read on to learn more facts about chronic pain. They’ll help you learn how common this ailment is as well as improve your understanding of chronic pain disorders and pain management.

The Top 8 Chronic Pain Stats and Facts to Remember

  • 20% of adults in America feel pain every day.
  • Over two-thirds of all deaths in the US are caused by a chronic disease.
  • People aged 45 and over are more likely to suffer from lower back pain.
  • Americans with chronic pain have a 42-minute sleep debt.
  • Chronic lower back pain is the most common type of chronic pain.
  • 50% of adults claim to suffer from chronic headaches.
  • Migraine is the third most common illness worldwide.
  • Drugs only help 58% of chronic pain sufferers.

Chronic Pain Statistics Worldwide

Chronic Pain Statistics - Featured

1.  Chronic pain affects 20.5% of the world population.

It’s estimated that more than 1.5 billion people worldwide are affected by chronic pain. Chronic pain is most prevalent in China, where over 35% of people experience ongoing pain, mainly chronic back pain, headaches, and chronic lower back pain.

(The Good Body)

2. Chronic pain affects 20% of Europeans.

Around 80 million adults in Europe experience chronic pain. According to the statistics, it’s estimated that chronic pain accounts for the loss of 500 million hours of work a year in Europe. This costs the budget approximately €300 billion, almost 3% of the GDP.

(European Pain Federation)

Statistics of Chronic Pain in America

3. 20% of adults in America feel pain every day.

A new study showed that a little less than 20% of Americans feel pain that lasts for more than 24 hours. Chronic pain in this case occurs most days or even every day over a six-month period.

(American Council on Science and Health)

4. 50 million Americans are affected by chronic pain.

According to the statistics for 2018, 50 million US citizens, or a little over 20% of adults, are living with chronic pain. In fact, the overall chronic pain prevalence in the US is higher than that of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer combined.

(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

5. Chronic pain is the number-one cause of long-term disability in America.

Americans cite conditions arising from chronic pain as the most common cause of long-term disability.

(The Good Body)

6. Over two-thirds of all deaths in the US are caused by a chronic disease.

Chronic diseases account for seven out of ten deaths in the US. Every year, 1.7 million Americans die of the top five chronic diseases: heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.


Who Suffers from Chronic Pain? 

7.  People aged 45 and over are more likely to suffer from lower back pain.

As people age, there’s a greater risk of being affected by conditions that produce a chronic pain disorder. Actually, Americans aged between 18 and 44 are less likely to develop lower back pain than those 45 years of age and over.

(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

8. Advanced age is a key factor in experiencing chronic pain.

Recent studies have shown that chronic pain rates increased steadily among 18-to-64-year-olds, while they drastically rose in Americans aged 85 years and over.

(U.S. Pharmacist)

9. 70% of people affected by chronic pain syndrome are women.

The chronic pain statistics show that both chronic and high-impact chronic pain are more prevalent among women. What’s more, women are more at risk of developing the four most common types of chronic pain and are twice as likely to be affected by migraines and facial pain than men. In fact, 85% of chronic migraine sufferers are women, and around a quarter of women suffer from severe headaches at some point in their lives.

(Harvard Health Publishing)

10. 24% of Americans who didn’t finish high school suffer from chronic pain.

Surprisingly, there’s evidence of a connection between one’s level of education and persistent pain. US adults with a completed bachelor’s degree or higher show a lower prevalence of chronic pain (12.4%) than those who haven’t finished high school.

(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

11. Smokers account for 50% of patients with chronic pain syndrome.

Experts believe that smoking seems to deteriorate the condition of people with arthritis and other chronic pain diseases, and it makes them more susceptible to chronic pain.


12. There’s a close link between chronic pain and poverty.

For chronic pain sufferers, the statistics show that almost 30% of people with chronic pain and around 18% of those affected by high-impact chronic pain have a greater economic disadvantage than the 15% of chronic pain patients and the 4% of high-impact chronic pain sufferers who are more financially secure.

(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

13. 21% of chronic pain patients are non-Hispanic whites.

The chronic pain statistics from a 2019 survey revealed that adult whites are closely followed by non-Hispanic blacks (17.8%) and Hispanics (16.7%), with other non-Hispanics ranking last. 

(U.S. Pharmacist)

14. Obesity may lead to a chronic pain disorder.

Approximately 50% of obese people seeking medical help claim to have experienced mild to severe pain.


15. Americans with chronic pain have a 42-minute sleep debt.

There’s a close relationship between sleep and chronic pain. Chronic pain significantly affects the difference between the amount of sleep people need and the amount they get. Just for comparison, the acute pain statistics from 2018 indicate that people suffering from acute pain only report a 14-minute sleep gap. Additionally, only 37% of Americans with chronic pain stated that they have good or very good quality of sleep.

(National Sleep Foundation)

16. One in four people with chronic pain is diagnosed with a sleep disorder.

45.5% of those suffering from chronic pain suffer from a sleep disorder, while about a quarter—just over 26%—of chronic pain patients have been diagnosed with clinical insomnia.

(National Center for Biotechnology Information)

The Most Common Types of Chronic Pain

Chronic Pain Statistics - Knee Pain

17. Chronic lower back pain is the most common type of chronic pain.

27% of US citizens with chronic pain suffer from lower back pain, 15% are affected by chronic neck pain, and only 4% suffer from facial pain. In addition, according to low-back pain statistics, the number of Americans whose daily activities were impaired by lower back pain rose from a little less than 4% in 1992 to 10.2% in 2006. It’s also estimated that 84% of adults will experience chronic back pain at some point in their lives.

(Pain Doctor)

18. One-half of all working Americans say they experience lower back pain every year.

Back pain statistics indicate that this type of pain is the most common reason for Americans taking a day off work, and it accounts for 264 million lost workdays in a single year country-wide. Chronic back pain is also number three on the list of reasons people have to visit the doctor’s office. 

(American Chiropractic Association)

19. 50% of adults claim to suffer from chronic headaches.

Most pain statistics indicate that three-quarters of adults from the ages of 18 to 65 worldwide have suffered from headaches, while 30% of them report chronic migraines. An astonishing 4% of adults across the globe say they experience chronic daily migraines for 15 or more days each month.

(World Health Organization)

20. Migraine is the third most common illness worldwide.

Surprisingly, 12% of the population suffers from migraines. In the US alone, 18% of women, 6% of men, and 10% of children have reported chronic migraine pain.

(Migraine Research Foundation)

High-Impact Chronic Pain

21. 8% of Americans suffer from high-impact chronic pain.

19.6 million adults in America are affected by high-impact chronic pain. So what is high-impact chronic pain? It’s defined as pain that lasts for 3 months or longer and restricts at least one major life activity, such as going to work or completing household chores.

(National Institutes of Health

22. One-third of people with high-impact chronic pain are unable to take care of themselves.

In addition, about 83% of Americans with high-impact chronic pain can’t work, according to the chronic pain facts. They report higher levels of anxiety and fatigue, as well as more severe pain, poor health, and an increased use of health care services.

(National Institutes of Health

The Impact of Chronic Pain on Our Daily Lives

Chronic Pain Statistics - Massage

23. Chronic pain impacts the quality of life of 2 out of 5 adults.

Ongoing pain has a devastating effect on people’s health, emotions, sleep, and ability to work. It’s reported that as many as 20% of people with chronic pain in the US have taken disability leave from work, while 17% have changed jobs due to pain. Another 13% suffering from high-impact chronic pain need professional help or to move to a more manageable home.

(The Good Body)

24. Drugs only help 58% of chronic pain sufferers.

In spite of extensive research into chronic pain management, little progress has been made to deal with the issue.


25. There’s a clear relationship between chronic pain and depression.

Chronic pain and depression statistics reveal that 77% of people suffer from depression as a result of feeling constant high-impact pain.


26. Chronic pain costs reach $635 billion a year.

Economists estimate that chronic pain treatment costs combined with lost productivity reach $560 to $635 billion a year. In other words, chronic pain costs every US citizen approximately $2,000 a year. This is higher than the annual costs for heart diseases, diabetes, and cancer combined.

(American Health & Drug Benefits)

27. 36 million Americans missed work due to high-impact chronic pain in a one-year period.

Data shows that workers lose an average of 4.6 hours of productive time in a week as a result of chronic pain conditions.

(The Good Body)

In Conclusion

Chronic pain is a serious health condition that has far-reaching consequences on every aspect of daily life. It impairs people’s ability to work, socialize, sleep, and function properly.

But don’t despair. There are many pain management tools that can help you stop pain from limiting your day-to-day activities. Hopefully, these chronic pain statistics will shed some light on the causes and risk factors of chronic pain conditions and help people get the help they need.


Is chronic pain a disability?

Technically, chronic pain in itself isn’t defined as a disability, but some conditions that result in persistent pain, like arthritis and spinal disorders, qualify as disabilities. The bottom line is that certain people with chronic pain will meet the requirements for disability as determined by the Americans with Disabilities Act, while others will not.

Does chronic pain shorten life expectancy?

The short answer is yes. Chronic pain tends to have a negative impact on one’s quality of life, resulting in depression, anxiety, and poor health, all of which shorten a person’s life expectancy. Research indicates that adults with chronic lower back pain are 13% more likely to die prematurely.

What is the best pain medication for chronic pain?

Everyone experiences pain differently, which is why it’s so difficult to find a single cure to help chronic pain management. The most commonly prescribed are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, followed by antidepressants and opioids. Depending on the type of pain you experience, there are various alternative chronic pain treatments you can try. Joining chronic pain support groups is also recommended. Sharing experiences with others is always beneficial. Nevertheless, you should always consult your doctor on the best treatment for your chronic pain disorder.

What is it that chronic pain does to your brain?

It’s been proven that chronic pain does not impact a single part of the brain. Rather, it affects many areas that amplify the pain, while also increasing the sufferer’s worry and stress. Also, due to damage to the prefrontal cortex of the brain from chronic pain, people experience anxiety, depression, and even suicidal thoughts.

What is the most common chronic pain cause?

The most common cause of chronic pain is lower back pain. 27% of chronic pain sufferers experience this type of pain.

Does sleep deprivation contribute to chronic pain?

Chronic pain and sleep deprivation are integrally connected. Pain disrupts sleep, while not getting enough sleep makes the pain worse. About 23% of people with chronic pain have some type of sleep disorder. In comparison, only 6% of pain-free individuals experience sleep deprivation. What’s more, not getting enough sleep is proven to be one of the most reliable indicators of chronic pain.

Who is affected by chronic pain?

Everyone can suffer from some type of chronic pain, however, the statistics show that age is a determining factor—chronic pain is usually connected to advancing age. People suffering from depression, anxiety, and obesity—as well as people who smoke—are at higher risk of having chronic pain due to their unhealthy lifestyles.