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Mapping Out Chronic Pain In The U.S.A.

In the United States, an estimated one in five adults1 suffers from chronic pain, according to a 2016 CDC report. This leaves many in search of relief from what can be an elusive affliction. Chronic pain is one of the top reasons people seek medical care, emerging in the medical field as a health concern all its own. In fact, chronic pain contributes $560 billion each year in direct medical costs, lost productivity, and disability programs, according to the CDC.

However, treating chronic pain can be difficult for providers. Chronic pain is defined as pain lasting more than 12 weeks, and it has varying causes2,  including initial injuries that damage the nerves and leads to intense, persistent pain, or other conditions that don’t include an initial injury, such as chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, or endometriosis. The causes of chronic pain without injury aren’t well understood, which makes this complex issue even more complicated.


One thing is clear from the research around chronic pain, however: different demographics experience different levels of chronic pain.

The rate of chronic pain sufferers varies in groups organized by age, race, gender, education level, poverty level, veteran status, and more, according to the CDC. To try to glean more information about this elusive condition, Spruce wanted to dive into the differences among these demographics and their experiences of chronic pain, in order to paint a clearer picture of chronic pain in the U.S.

For this analysis, we looked at the socioeconomic breakdown of each U.S. state in order to determine the likelihood of chronic pain persisting in its population, using data collected from the above mentioned CDC report and the U.S. Census3.  Below, we map out our results showing the prevalence of chronic pain in the U.S. among different demographic groups

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