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100 Million Americans Live With Chronic Pain: Here’s How Much It Costs to Deal With It

Our country’s highly debated, well-publicized opioid crisis begs the question: How are those living with chronic pain dealing with it? Jim Watkins, a victim of the brittle bone disease osteogenesis imperfecta, told the Chicago Tribune he must visit the doctor more frequently to receive his medication. He also has to undergo questioning he finds “just short of harassment.”

In addition to invasive questioning there is also the rising cost. Here’s a look at what chronic pain entails.

The price of pain

A woman deals with shoulder pain.

A woman deals with shoulder pain. Pain can really affect your daily life. | iStock.com

The U.S. spends billions of dollars to treat chronic pain. A new working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research found the value of avoiding pain ranged from $56 to $145 per day, fluctuating due to factors like household income and severity of the pain.

A 2011 study conducted by Johns Hopkins University and George Washington University found that if you combine the health care costs to treat pain with lost productivity from missed work days, chronic pain costs the U.S. health care system between $560 to $635 billion per year. This cost is far higher than that of cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.

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