Feb. 14 (UPI) -- U.S. adults are seeking treatment for chronic pain more than ever, a new study says.
The rate of U.S. adults who felt at least one painful health condition increased from 32.9 percent in 1997 to 41 percent in 2014, according to a study published in January in the Journal of Pain.
Additionally, opioid use exploded from 4.1 million between 2001 and 2002 to 10.5 million between 2013 and 2014.
"We took a unique approach with this study by simultaneously examining long-term trends in the overall prevalence of noncancer pain in the U.S., the impact of this pain, and health care use attributable directly to pain management," Richard L. Nahin, lead epidemiologist at National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health and study first author, said in a news release. "To address these gaps, we used data from MEPS to identify trends between 1997 and 2014."
The study showed that by 2014, nearly 1 in 3 people with chronic pain said it interfered with their work. People in this group who suffer severe pain are the most likely to use strong opioids to manage their pain.
People suffering severe pain reportedly had visited a doctor's office six or more times during the time of the study and had received four or more opioid prescriptions during the time of the study.
These opioids include strong opioids, like fentanyl, morphine, and oxycodone.
People visited ambulatory office for pain fell between 2013 and 2014, after peaking between 2001 and 2002, then again in 2007 and 2008.
"The data show a substantial increase not only in the number of U.S. adults with painful health conditions, but also in overall use of opioids and in the number of people receiving multiple opioid prescriptions," said Helene Langevin, NCCIH director. "This long-term picture of pain management is of critical importance as NIH addresses the opioid crisis. It offers insights that can help improve decision-making by stakeholders-from patients and providers to payers and policymakers."