More than half of Americans suffer from back pain and leg pain

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In a new study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and elsewhere, researchers found more than 50% of Americans suffer from chronic pain, with backs and legs the most common sources.

Overall, they found that nearly 59% of American men and women were saddled with pain.

In the study, the team used 2019 data from the National Health Interview Survey and found that 39% of adults had back pain, 37% had hip, knee or foot pain, and nearly one-third had a hand, arm or shoulder pain in the past three months. About one in 10 suffered from toothaches.

The goal of the survey was not to draw conclusions from the data but to provide the groundwork for further analyses.

The team found the odds of experiencing pain were related to economics and age.

Those 65 and older, women, white adults and those with incomes below the federal poverty level ($25,750 for a family of four in 2019) were most likely to have back pain and lower limb pain, as well as hand, arm or shoulder pain.

Among those least likely to experience pain were those aged 18 to 29, men, Asian adults and those with an income 200% of the federal poverty level or above.

The team says chronic pain is often musculoskeletal and linked to degenerative wear-and-tear, often due to a physically demanding job or aging.

Women, especially those who are postmenopausal, have a higher incidence of musculoskeletal pain, possibly because of hormonal differences.

Socioeconomic factors and health are inherently linked. It is well-established that pain is associated with social-economic status.

Part of that is likely because those who have chronic lower back pain often have physically demanding work.

Also, studies have shown a strong association with chronic back, leg and arm pain, and patients with the lowest educational levels and blue-collar workers, likely because of the nature of the work.

Most chronic musculoskeletal pain is probably caused by degeneration and age. Also, being overweight can lead to added stress to joints of the back and extremities as well, which can lead to increased degeneration.

The team says most people will develop chronic degenerative pain sometime in their lives. The key to treatment is to focus on the quality of life and function, not just the pain.

If you care about chronic pain, please read studies about this painkiller may affect your liver health much more than expected and findings of cannabis provides pain relief for women with this health problem.

For more information about pain management, please see recent studies about this diet may increase your risk of low back pain and results showing that these 3 antibiotics could offer alternative to addictive opioid pain relievers.

The study is published in an NCHS Data Brief. One author of the study is Dr. Yili Huang.

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