Pain is a serious and costly public health concern affecting more people in the U.S. than diabetes, heart disease and cancer combined. In 2010, the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics reported that approximately 30% of U.S. adults 18 years of age and over reported recent symptoms of pain, aching or swelling around a joint within the past 30 days.
Some of the most common and debilitating chronic inflammation and pain-related diseases are OA, RA and acute and chronic pain. According to National Health Interview Survey data analyzed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 50 million U.S. adults 18 years of age and over had reported being diagnosed with some form of arthritis. With the aging of the U.S. population, the prevalence of arthritis is expected to rise by approximately 40% by 2030, impacting 67 million people in the U.S.
People with these diseases may become increasingly debilitated as the disease progresses, experiencing not only significant pain but also loss of mobility, independence and the ability to work, thereby potentially placing a significant burden on family caregivers and healthcare and social services. In addition, patients suffering from chronic inflammatory diseases tend to have shortened life expectancies as a direct result of these diseases.
According to the American Pain Foundation Fact Sheet and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
• the annual cost of chronic pain in the U.S., including healthcare expenses, lost income and lost productivity, is estimated to be $100 billion;
• arthritis and related conditions, such as OA, cost the U.S. economy nearly $128 billion per year in medical care and indirect expenses, including lost wages and productivity; and
• pain is the second leading cause of medically related work absenteeism, resulting in more than 50 million lost workdays each year.
In addition, the Arthritis Foundation reports 992,000 hospitalizations and 44 million office visits in the U.S. annually for arthritis alone.
Mild to Moderate Pain
Mild to moderate pain is generally characterized as either acute or chronic. Acute pain often results from tissue damage, such as a broken bone. Acute pain can also be associated with headaches or muscle cramps. This type of pain usually decreases as the injury heals or the cause of the pain is removed. Pain is generally considered acute if it dissipates within six months of onset. Chronic pain includes pain that persists after an injury heals, pain related to a persistent or degenerative disease and long-term pain from an unidentifiable cause.
Chronic pain may be caused by the body’s response to acute pain or may have unknown causes. According to the American Pain Foundation, 44% of pain sufferers 20 years of age and over in the U.S. report pain that lasts up to three months (over 30 million people), 14% report pain lasting for three months to one year (approximately 11 million people) and 42% report pain lasting more than one year (approximately 32 million people). About one-third of people who report pain indicate that their pain is disabling, which is defined as both severe and having a high impact on functions of daily life.
However, even if the underlying disorder can be treated, analgesics such as NSAIDs may still be needed to manage the pain. Physicians choose an analgesic based on the type and duration of pain and on the likely benefits and risks. Most analgesics are effective for treatment of pain due to ordinary injury of tissues (nociceptive pain) but are less effective for treatment of pain due to damage or dysfunction of the nerves, spinal cord, or brain (neuropathic pain). Common analgesics to treat acute and chronic pain are opioid (narcotic) analgesics and nonopioid analgesics, such as acetaminophen and NSAIDs.
Last updated May 30, 2012