Chronic pain associated with poor health, COVID-19 infection

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Chronic pain—pain lasting at least three months—is a serious problem affecting a large number of people: according to the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, more than 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain.

In a study from Dartmouth College, scientists found people who suffer from chronic pain at age 44 are more like to report pain, poor general health, poor mental health outcomes and joblessness in their 50s and 60s.

In the study, the researchers studied people enrolled in the National Child Development Survey, a study following all those born in one week in March 1958 in England, Scotland and Wales.

The main pain data used were from the Bio-Medical Survey conducted in 2003, when most of the 12,037 respondents were age 44. Additional health data was collected in 2008, 2013 and 2021.

Overall, two-fifths of those in their 40s reported suffering chronic pain.

The team found both short-term and chronic pain at age 44 were associated with pain and poor health in later decades of life, with associations strongest for chronic pain.

Among those reporting chronic pain at age 44, for example, 84% still reported “very severe” pain at age 50.

Chronic pain, but not short-term pain, was also associated with poor mental health outcomes, lower life satisfaction, pessimism about the future, poor sleep and joblessness at age 55.

Additionally, the researchers found that pain at age 44 predicts whether a respondent had been infected with COVID-19 in the 2021 survey, at age 62, suggesting that pain is associated with broader health vulnerabilities.

The researchers conclude that chronic pain shows persistence across the life course and is, in part, passed between generations.

They say that by tracking a birth cohort across their life course they find chronic pain is highly persistent.

It is associated with poor mental health outcomes later in life including depression, as well as leading to poorer general health and joblessness.

They hope the study highlights the need for academics and policymakers to focus more attention on the problems of chronic pain.

If you care about pain, please read studies about native American plant med that could treat pain and diarrhea, and over-the-counter pain relievers may harm your blood pressure.

For more information about health, please see recent studies about therapy that could effectively treat pain, depression and anxiety, and results showing this diet may reduce neuropathy pain in diabetes.

The study was conducted by David Blanchflower et al and published in PLOS ONE.

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