The Economical Impact of Pain

  • Darrell J. Gaskin
  • Patrick Richard
  • Joseph Walburn


Pain afflicts about 20% of adults globally. The source of pain ranges from a variety of health conditions, including arthritis, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, migraine, fibromyalgia, back pain, cancer and chronic pain. Pain is very costly to society and individuals . It typically requires costly ongoing medical treatment and increases the costs of treating other health conditions. In addition to medical care costs, pain has indirect costs because it reduces labor market productivity through presenteeism and absenteeism. Workers with pain are sometimes unable to function at their full capabilities. Also, pain can cause workers to missed days or reduce their participation in the labor market from full-time- to part time or even drop out of the labor market altogether. Gaskin and Richard (J Pain 13(8):715–724, 2012, [1]) estimated the annual cost of chronic and persistent pain in the United States ranged from $560 to $635 billion in 2010. Gustavsson et al. (Eur J Pain, 2012, [2]) estimated that on average adults in Sweden incurred an annual costs of medical care due to chronic pain conditions of €2650 and loss annually €6429 in labor market productivity. This study reviews estimates of the costs of pain across a variety of countries and for several conditions that cause pain. The bottom line is pain regardless of the country or condition is costly.


Costs of pain Labor market costs Direct medical care costs Individual costs Societal costs 



The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official views of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences or the U.S. Department of Defense.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Darrell J. Gaskin
    • 1
  • Patrick Richard
    • 2
  • Joseph Walburn
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Health Policy and ManagementCenter for Health Disparities Solutions, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public HealthBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.Department of Preventive Medicine and Biostatistics (PMB), School of Medicine (SOM)Uniformed Services University of the Health SciencesBethesdaUSA
  3. 3.Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public HealthBaltimoreUSA

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