From Our 2009 Archives

Bad Economy Really Hurts Some Folks

THURSDAY, Sept. 24 (HealthDay News) -- The sting of a bad economy is causing physical pain for many Americans, according to a new survey that found that more than two-thirds of respondents blame the downturn for a variety of body aches.

An American Pain Foundation online survey of 2,192 people found that 68% of those who suffered acute back pain or other minor muscle strains and sprains in the past year believe the recession caused, increased or affected their pain, because of increased stress and having to work harder at work and home.

Among the specific findings:

  • 27% of respondents said greater stress, pressure, anxiety or worry related to the recession had a major effect on their pain.
  • 29% said working harder, either at work (17%) or at home (17%), had a big impact on their pain.
  • 21% said recession-related health problems, such as sleeplessness, eating habits or cutting back on health care, had a big effect on their pain.
  • 34% reported having suffered from acute back pain in the past year, while 48% said they'd experienced minor muscle strains or sprains on other parts of their body. The rate of acute back pain or muscle strains and sprains was highest for those with children under 18 years old in their household -- 69% versus 56% for those without children in the home.
  • 78% of those with acute back pain or minor muscle strains or sprains reported the pain affected their quality of life, including work, their ability to deal with other health issues, and their sex drive.
  • Only 43% of those with pain said they'd consulted a health care professional. Of those, 90% said they tried some form of remedy before they saw a health care professional. The belief that they could "tough it out" was cited by 57% as the reason why they didn't seek medical help.

"These findings demonstrate the unexpected impact that mental and physical stress can have on our bodies," Will Rowe, chief executive officer of the American Pain Foundation, said in a news release. "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. As many of us take on more at work and at home to cope with economic uncertainty, it is important not to do it at the expense of our health."

The survey, released Sept. 21, was funded by King Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

-- Robert Preidt

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SOURCE: American Pain Foundation, news release, Sept. 21, 2009