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Long-term pain hits 1 in 10 Americans

One in 10 U.S. adults suffer pain that lasts a year or more, according to government statistics released Wednesday.
/ Source: Reuters

One in 10 U.S. adults suffer pain that lasts a year or more, according to government statistics released Wednesday.

But Americans are living longer, with life span at a record average of just short of 80 years, according to the annual report on the nation's health from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"At birth, life expectancy for females is just over 80 years and nearly 75 for males. The gap in life expectancy between white and black Americans also has narrowed from seven years in 1990 to five years in 2004," the CDC said in a statement.

"Life expectancy at birth reached a record 77.9 years in 2004, up from 77.5 in 2003 and from 75.4 in 1990."

But the bad news is that fully a quarter of American adults say they have suffered a day-long bout of pain in the past month, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the CDC.

Back pain and migraine common ailments
Lower back pain is among the most common complaints, along with migraine or severe headache, and joint pain, aching or stiffness, the survey found.

"We chose to focus on pain in this report because it is rarely discussed as a condition in and of itself — it is mostly viewed as a byproduct of another condition," said Amy Bernstein, the researcher who led the study.

More than a quarter of adults interviewed said they had experienced low back pain in the past three months.

Migraines or severe headaches affected 15 percent of adults in the past three months, and 4.2 percent of adults had used a narcotic drug in the past month for pain relief.

The report found that U.S. health care spending averaged $6,280 per person in 2004.

Infant mortality fell to 6.8 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2004, down slightly from 6.9 deaths in 2003.

For adults, heart disease remains the leading killer, but deaths from heart disease fell 16 percent between 2000 and 2004, the report found. Deaths from cancer — the No. 2 killer — dropped by 8 percent.

But diabetes is worsening and 11 percent of adults aged 40-59 years have diabetes — 23 percent of those 60 and older, according to the report.