22% of U.S. Patients with Arthritis Have ‘High-Impact’ Chronic Pain — Here’s What That Means
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22% of U.S. Patients with Arthritis Have ‘High-Impact’ Chronic Pain — Here’s What That Means

New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that arthritis might be a leading cause of chronic pain in the U.S.

Chronic pain can occur for many reasons: migraines, reproductive-related health issues (such as endometriosis or fibroids), advanced cancer, an injury, and so on. But if you had to place a bet on the root cause for the most chronic pain patients, arthritis would be a pretty good guess.

That’s the key takeaway from a new study, presented at the 2019 American College of Rheumatology/Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals Annual Meeting in Atlanta, which aimed to compare the prevalence of chronic pain among arthritis patients to the U.S. population at large.

To conduct the study, researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) analyzed data on nearly 60,000 respondents to the 2016-2017 U.S. National Health Interview survey. They determined that 48 percent of those with arthritis lived with chronic pain, which was substantially higher compared to those without arthritis.

They also found that 22% of adults with arthritis had what was called “high impact chronic pain,” which is defined as pain that has lasted at least three months and is severe enough to interfere with a major life activities (like being unable to leave the house for work).

“Despite unknown temporality, our study results combined with clinical evidence suggests that arthritis may be a leading cause of [chronic pain] and [high impact chronic pain] among U.S. adults,” the authors concluded.

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The authors called for “integrated approaches to pain management that include evidence-based non-pharmacologic strategies” — including cognitive behavioral therapy, physical activity, and self-management education) — to “reduce chronic pain and its adverse effects, such as psychological distress, and may help reduce prescribed opioid use.”

For more information on science-based treatment for chronic pain, sign up for an upcoming webinar from the Global Healthy Living Foundation.

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