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Chronic Pain It's Not All In Your Head

Updated: Apr 19, 2023

Therapist & Patient

Have you ever had to live your life in pain? I do each and every day. I have been told by doctors that it is all in your head, and I just look at them because I know the pain my body is in and it's not all in my head.

The CDC reports that 21% of Americans live with chronic pain. And nearly 7% live in severe pain that affects daily activities. It's real and never allow anyone to tell you that it is all in your head. Chronic pain continued to affect more than one in five U.S. adults, new CDC survey data showed.

During 2021, an estimated 51.6 million adults (20.9%) had chronic pain lasting 3 months or longer, and 17.1 million (6.9%) had high-impact chronic pain -- pain severe enough to restrict daily activities -- reported S. Michaela Rikard, PhD, of the CDC's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, and co-authors.

Pain prevalence was higher in adults who were American Indian or Alaska Native, who identified as bisexual, or who were divorced or separated, the researchers said in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

"Clinicians, practices, health systems, and payers should vigilantly attend to health inequities and ensure access to appropriate, affordable, diversified, coordinated, and effective pain management care for all persons," Rikard and colleagues wrote.

The 2022 CDC guideline for prescribing opioids recommendations about multimodal approaches to pain management and strategies to reduce pain care disparities, the researchers stated. "In addition, policies and programs that address primary injury prevention, improved access to affordable, culturally responsive health care, and more effective pain management therapies can mitigate the burden of chronic pain," they pointed out.

Personally, I will not take pain medication. I handle my own pain by exercising. And I have gone to physical therapy. All of my doctors know that I will do what I can and what works best for me. Chronic pain prevalence ranged from 28.0% in American Indian or Alaska Native populations to 7.7% in Asian populations. High-impact pain was 12.8% in American Indian or Alaska Native respondents, but considerably less in white (6.5%) and Asian (2.1%) adults.

Among people identifying as bisexual, chronic pain prevalence was 32.9%, and was lower in people who identified as straight (19.3%) and gay or lesbian (20.7%).

Divorced or separated people had a higher prevalence of both chronic pain and high-impact chronic pain (29.6% and 10.1%, respectively) than married people (18.2% and 5.2%, respectively).

Among all chronic medical conditions reported in the survey, the prevalence of chronic pain and high-impact chronic pain was highest among people with a history of myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (70.0% and 43.8%, respectively) or dementia (54.9% and 34.2%, respectively).

Chronic Pain is real and never allow anyone to tell you that it's "All in your head."


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