Why more Americans are feeling the pain

Why more Americans are feeling the pain

If you suffer from severe joint pain, you’re not alone. The number of people plagued by pain is on the rise, according to one study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The research results show a nearly 40 percent spike in men and women reporting serious joint pain between 2002 and 2014.

The team report that the problem may only get worse, since much of the joint pain is associated with arthritis. And arthritis cases among Americans are expected to rise over the next few decades, the CDC said.

“Many people think arthritis only affects older adults, but it affects people of all ages, including children,” says Dr. Venkat Seshadri, an orthopedic specialist on staff at Advocate South Suburban Hospital in Hazel Crest, Ill. “These findings put a spotlight on the fact that an increasing number of people of all ages will be living with severe pain in the coming years.”

In the study, a quarter of the people with arthritis rated their pain as “severe.” The CDC investigators defined “severe” joint pain as discomfort measuring 7 or more on a 1-to-10 score on a questionnaire. The scale ran from a “1” indicating no pain and a “10” being pain and aching as bad as it can be.

“The severity of pain that people with arthritis are reporting certainly can adversely impact quality of life in a number of ways,” says Dr. Seshadri. “It can limit activities of daily living, the ability to work and the ability to exercise.”

The growing population of arthritis pain sufferers, says Dr. Seshadri, could very well become a larger public health issue.

“Research has shown that people with arthritis are less likely to be physically active than people without arthritis,” he says. “This lack of activity can become a risk factor for other chronic diseases and can affect management of other health conditions.”

Dr. Seshadri recommends working with a physician, such as an orthopedic surgeon, to limit and manage chronic pain, arthritis-related, or not. He says that over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) typically are used to help control arthritis pain.

Low impact exercise, he adds, is another way that many people are able to lessen arthritis pain. When the NSAIDs are ineffective, injections of cortisone or viscosupplementation (lubricating fluid injected into a joint) can be therapeutic.

Stronger prescription painkillers such as opioids, however, are to be avoided, says Dr. Seshadri. The health and addiction risks of longer term use, he says, make opioids potentially unsafe.

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  1. This article doe not say “Why” more people have arthritis and joint pain.

  2. Dr. Mark Neault

    As an AMG Orthopedic Surgeon specializing in Sports Medicine. I agree with Dr. Seshadri. He makes a great point about the benefits of low impact exercise to help decrease joint pain. For Lake County residents, the Advocate Condell Centre Club is a great place to get started with a personal trainer to safely work towards your fitness goals. If pain is persistent, click here to take our joint pain assessment to determine if you should follow up with one of our orthopedic specialists. http://www.advocatehealth.com/condell-orthopedics

  3. The title question of this article was never answered… “Why are more American’s feeling the pain?” You let us know that arthritis and joint pain are “spiking,” then go on to say that these numbers are expected to rise… but there is no hypothesis presented as to why… is it our jobs? something about our diets? could it be that more injuries are occurring in the populations? It would be nice to understand the source of this issue and how best to try to avoid it!

  4. I would like to understand why more people are suffering from arthritic pain and, why the pain is expected to rise. I already have spinal stenosis and some arthritis. I am on opiates and I am still in a lot of pain. I will be starting physical therapy after an injury heals, to see if core strength training will help support my low back and alleviate the pain. If that does not help, my surgeon would like to go with shots of cortisone in my spine (I am not keen on that idea). In the event I do not agree to shots or I do and they do not work, I am looking at spinal surgery. Now that you know a little about my situation (which is what prompted me to read this article), I would like to know what the causes are and what can be done besides OTC medication and low impact exercise to counteract the pain. I would also like to know where to find out what the long-term health risks are for BuTrans patches (could you provide a link to a reputable source)?


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About the Author

Nate Llewellyn
Nate Llewellyn

Nate Llewellyn, health enews contributor, is a manager of public affairs at Advocate Medical Group. Nate began his career as a journalist and builds daily on his nearly 20 years of writing experience. He spends most of his free time following his wife to their two sons’ various activities.