US Pharm. 2012;37(5):10.

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, more than nine in 10 adults will experience pain at some point. Of 227.4 million Americans, 28.5% (64.8 million), 15.8% (35.97 million), 15.4% (34.95 million), and 5.1% (11.5 million) suffered from lower back, migraine, neck, and facial or jaw pain, respectively, in 2010. Women tend to experience more pain than men, and this held true for the four most common types of pain reported in 2010 by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). The lower back was the most frequent site of pain for both men (26.3%, 28.8 million) and women (30.6%, 36 million). Similar patterns were observed for migraine (women: 24.9 million, 21.2%; men: 11.1 million, 10.1%), neck pain (women: 20.9 million, 17.7%; men: 14.1 million, 12.8%), and facial or jaw pain (women: 7.8 million, 6.7%; men: 3.7 million, 3.3%).

Migraine: The International Classification of Headache Disorders categorizes migraine as a primary headache disorder that affects 15.8% (35.97 million) of the U.S. population. In 2010, 60% (21.7 million) of migraine sufferers were aged 18 to 44 years. Prevalence was halved in individuals aged 45 to 64 years (33.1%, 11.9 million) and further dropped to one-tenth among those aged 65 to 74 years (3.9%, 1.4 million) and to 2.7% (1 million) among those older than 75 years.

Neck Pain: Of 34.95 million people who experienced neck pain, 43.3% (15.2 million) were aged 45 to 64 years, and 40.9% (14.3 million) were aged 18 to 44 years. Individuals older than 65 years suffered the least (5.5 million) from this affliction.

Lower Back Pain: Lower back pain occurred in 64.8 million people and was most frequent among those aged 18 to 44 years (26.97 million), followed closely by those aged 45 to 64 years (25.8 million). Individuals aged 65 to 74 years and 75 years and older had a prevalence of 9.6% (6.2 million) and 9% (5.8 million), respectively.

Facial or Jaw Pain: One-half (5.8 million) of all patients with facial or jaw pain were aged 18 to 44 years, followed by 38.3% (4.4 million) of those aged 45 to 64 years; another 1.3 million were older than 65 years. Of all individuals who experienced facial or jaw pain, 3.7 million were male and 7.9 million were female.

Commentary: Not all types of pain require a physician’s attention; the pharmacist can play a pivotal role in pain management. An investigative approach to the circumstances in which a patient experiences pain is important for diagnosing the cause.

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