Chronic pain affects 1.5 billion people worldwide. Of those, an estimated 100 million people live in the United States. It affects more people than diabetes, heart disease and cancer combined, according to the American Academy of Pain Medicine.
And it involves more than just accidentally touching a hot stove and suffering a burn. It’s more than a bee sting, a twisted ankle or a bout with the dentist’s drill.
Chronic pain is unrelenting. It persists when it should not and lasts longer than three to six months — well beyond the expected or the tolerable. “As we age, there is an increased frequency, severity and incidence of pain,” says Dr. Lynn R. Webster, author of The Painful Truth: What Chronic Pain Is Really Like and Why It Matters to Each of Us.