We found that the total incremental cost of health care due to pain ranged from $261 to $300 billion. The value of lost productivity is based on three estimates: days of work missed (ranging from $11.6 to $12.7 billion), hours of work lost (from $95.2 to $96.5 billion), and lower wages (from $190.6 to $226.3 billion). Thus, the total financial cost of pain to society, which combines the health care cost estimates and the three productivity estimates, ranges from $560 to $635 billion. All estimates are in 2010 dollars.


We found that the annual cost of pain was greater than the annual costs in 2010 dollars of heart disease ($309 billion), cancer ($243 billion), and diabetes ($188 billion) and nearly 30 percent higher than the combined cost of cancer and diabetes.


Millions of Americans experience persistent pain. A review of 15 studies of chronic pain among adults found that prevalence estimates ranged from 2 percent to 40 percent, with a median of 15 percent (Verhaak et al., 1998; Turk, 2002; Manchikanti et al., 2009). Data from the 2009 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) indicate that during a 3-month period, 16 percent of adults reported having a migraine or severe headache, 15 percent reported having pain in the neck area, 28 percent reported having pain in the lower back, and 5 percent reported having pain in the face or jaw area. For those who have persistent pain, it limits their functional status and adversely impacts their quality of life. Consequently, pain can be costly to the nation because it requires medical treatment, complicates medical treatment for other conditions, and hinders people’s ability to work and function in society.

Several studies have examined the economic costs of pain. The U.S. Bureau of the Census (1996) reported the total costs of chronic noncancer pain to be $150 billion annually. In 1999, a report issued by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons estimated the total cost of musculoskeletal disorders at $215.5 billion in 1995 (Praemer et al., 1999). In 2001, the National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine (IOM) reported that the economic cost of musculoskeletal disorders, in terms of lost productivity, was $45-54 billion (NRC and IOM, 2001). Turk and Theodore (2011) reported that the annual cost of pharmaceuticals for pain management was $16.4 billion, and the cost of lumbar surgeries was $2.9 billion. Their estimates of the indirect costs of pain were $18.9 billion for disability compensation and $6.9 billion for productivity loss. Researchers have estimated the annual costs of migraines and rheumatoid arthritis

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