Prevalence of chronic pain among adults in the United States

Pain. 2022 Feb 1;163(2):e328-e332. doi: 10.1097/j.pain.0000000000002291.


Chronic pain is associated with reduced quality of life, increased medical expenditures, and significant economic costs. Chronic pain is among the most common chronic conditions in the United States, although estimates vary widely regarding its precise prevalence. Understanding the scope of the problem using the most contemporaneous data is therefore an important goal. This study sought to determine the prevalence of chronic pain and its impacts among adults in the United States using the National Health Interview Survey, a household-based annual survey of self-reported health status of U.S. adults that can be used to generate national-level estimates. Using a chronic pain module introduced in the 2019 edition of National Health Interview Survey, we found that 50.2 million adults (20.5%) reported pain on most days or every day. The most common pain locations were back pain and hip, knee, or foot pain. The most commonly used management strategies for chronic pain were physical therapy and massage. Respondents with chronic pain reported limitations in daily functioning, including social activities and activities of daily living. Respondents with chronic pain reported significantly more workdays missed compared with those without chronic pain (10.3 vs 2.8, P < 0.001). Overall, these findings indicate that more than 1 in 5 adults in America experiences chronic pain; additional attention to managing the burden of this disease is warranted.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living*
  • Adult
  • Chronic Disease
  • Chronic Pain* / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Prevalence
  • Quality of Life
  • United States / epidemiology