Sunday, November 1, 2009

Tough Times Amplify Aches & Pains, APF Survey

A new survey from the American Pain Foundation (APF) found that economic strain from the recession is resulting in an epidemic of back pain or other muscle strains and sprains among Americans. Yet, a majority do not seek medical care, and then many do not follow through with prescribed or recommended treatments.

According to the APF survey — supported by King Pharmaceuticals and conducted by Greenfield Online — nearly 70% of all adults interviewed experienced acute back pain or other minor muscle strains and sprains during the past year; 1 in 3 suffered back pain. They said that the recession caused or increased their pain, often because of greater stress and working harder at home and on the job. For many of the sufferers the economy’s effect was pronounced, with more than a third (37%) reporting that some aspect of the recession had a big impact on their pain. Furthermore, 1 in 5 said that health problems related to the recession — like sleeplessness, bad eating habits, or cutting back on healthcare — exacerbated their pain.

Acute back pain sufferers were especially likely to report that the recession had affected their pain, particularly those with children. Nearly 7 of 10 parents with back pain (68%) said the recession increased or negatively affected their pain, compared with 55% of non-parents with back pain. And, the pain had an effect on their quality of life, impacting everything from their work lives to their ability to take care of other health issues to their sexual desire. Despite this, many sufferers of acute back pain or other muscle strains or sprains took treatment matters into their own hands: only about 4 in 10 reported seeing a healthcare professional for their pain, and 90% had tried some type of other remedy, most commonly over-the-counter treatments, before consulting a healthcare professional. Interestingly, only 71% of those who consulted a healthcare professional followed through with prescribed or recommended treatments.

“These findings demonstrate the unexpected impact that mental and physical stress can have on our bodies,” said Will Rowe, chief executive officer of the American Pain Foundation. “In addition to stress and other health effects of the recession, this survey indicates there is an actual physical effect that translates into pain and injuries for Americans working harder to keep up with the tasks of daily life.” The survey was conducted online between July 27 and 30, 2009, and the overall margin of error for the total sample of 2,192 online Americans was +/- 2%.

Reference: American Pain Foundation. Acute Pain and the Recession Omnibus Survey. 2009 [Executive Summary available here].