Chronic pain common in American adults

April 28, 2012 at 10:53 PM

WASHINGTON, April 28 (UPI) -- Nearly half of all adult Americans lived with chronic pain of one type or another last year, a survey found.

One-third of U.S. adults in their mid-50s and older have chronic neck or back pain, while a similar percentage have chronic knee or leg pain, the Gallup-Healthways survey results indicate.

The organization's Well-Being Index daily tracking data surveyed 353,000 U.S. adults in 2011 found an average of 31 percent of U.S. adults reported having a neck or back condition, 26 percent had a knee or leg condition and 18 percent had recurring pain.

In total, 47 percent of U.S. adults reported having at least one of the three types of chronic pain, while 7 percent reported all three types.

Americans' reports of chronic pain increased most sharply from their mid-20s to late 50s, most likely due to repeated use of muscles, joints and ligaments, as well as this age group's increased likelihood of being overweight or obese.

However, when people reach their early 60s, rates of self-reported chronic pain level off and do not increase further, even as Americans move into their 70s, 80s and 90s.

Those with an annual income of less than $36,000 were much more likely to report having chronic pain than those with higher incomes.

The survey's margin of error was 1 percentage point.

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