Living with chronic pain

An estimated 100 million American adults live with chronic pain.

Chronic pain affects more Americans than the total number living with diabetes, heart disease and cancer—combined. (And that number doesn’t include children with pain!) Nearly 40 million of Americans have severe pain.


Chronic pain is often defined as pain lasting longer than three to six months. It also can be defined as pain that lasts beyond how long it should normally take to heal. It is the opposite of acute pain, which is temporary, specific, and treatable.


Chronic pain can take many forms. For example, it can be mild or severe; intermittent or continuous; annoying or disabling; short-term or life-long. In addition, it can occur in nearly any part of the body and can cause a wide range of sensations. To learn more about a specific pain condition, visit


Understandably, chronic pain can affect quality of life and productivity. As a result, it my be accompanied by fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, depression, and other problems. In addition, the economic impact is staggering. In 2010 dollars, the cost of chronic pain—including the cost of treatment and lost productivity—was estimated at nearly $635 billion.[1]


While it is unlikely that any one treatment will resolve chronic pain, a combination of therapies can enable you to live a normal, productive life. Furthermore, scientists are constantly making major advances that will undoubtedly lead to more and better treatments.



Learn more about chronic pain through these sections.


Causes & diagnosis



Complementary therapy




Be sure to also explore U.S. Pain’s list of resources!