The Prevalence of Chronic Pain in United States Adults: Results of an Internet-Based Survey

Published:August 27, 2010DOI:


      A cross-sectional, Internet-based survey was conducted in a nationally representative sample of United States (US) adults to estimate the point prevalence of chronic pain and to describe sociodemographic correlates and characteristics of chronic pain. The survey was distributed to 35,718 members (aged 18 years and older) of a Web-enabled panel that is representative of the US population, and 27,035 individuals responded. Crude and weighted prevalence estimates were calculated and stratified by age, sex, and type of chronic pain. The weighted point-prevalence of chronic pain (defined as chronic, recurrent, or long-lasting pain lasting for at least 6 months) was 30.7% (95% CI, 29.8–31.7). Prevalence was higher for females (34.3%) than males (26.7%) and increased with age. The weighted prevalence of primary chronic lower back pain was 8.1% and primary osteoarthritis pain was 3.9%. Half of respondents with chronic pain experienced daily pain, and average (past 3 months) pain intensity was severe (≥7 on a scale ranging from 0 to 10) for 32%. Multiple logistic regression analysis identified low household income and unemployment as significant socioeconomic correlates of chronic pain. Chronic pain is prevalent among US adults and is related to indicators of poorer socioeconomic status.


      The results of this cross-sectional Internet-based survey suggest a considerable burden of chronic pain in US adults. Chronic pain, experienced by about a third of the population, was correlated with indicators of poorer socioeconomic status. Primary chronic pain was most commonly attributed to lower back pain, followed by osteoarthritis pain.

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