Prevalence of Chronic Pain in the Adult Population


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 20 percent of Americans deal with chronic pain, and 8 percent deal with high-impact chronic pain (severe chronic pain that significantly interferes with everyday life).

Populations more likely to have chronic pain:

  • Non-hispanic white adults
  • Veterans

Populations more likely to have chronic pain and/or high-impact chronic pain (HICP):

  • Women
  • Older adults
  • Adults living in poverty
  • Rural residents
  • Currently unemployed, but previously employed, adults
  • Adults with public health insurance
  • People 65 and older with both Medicare and Medicaid

Populations less likely to have chronic pain:

  • People with a bachelor’s degree or higher education

Among these groups, socioeconomic status is a common factor in the prevalence of people with high-impact chronic pain. Indicators of socioeconomic status (education, poverty and health insurance coverage) seem to be a factor in the prevalence of high-impact chronic pain.

Identifying populations at risk for chronic pain is essential in creating affordable, accessible health care services.