A recent study published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE reveals that individuals who experience chronic pain at the age of 44 are more likely to report pain, poor general health, poor mental health outcomes, and unemployment in their 50s and 60s. The study, conducted by David Blanchflower of Dartmouth College, US, and Alex Bryson of University College London, UK, analyzed data from the National Child Development Survey, which tracked individuals born in England, Scotland, and Wales during one week in March 1958. The researchers utilized pain data from a 2003 Bio-Medical Survey, where most of the 12,037 participants were 44 years old, and gathered additional health data in 2008, 2013, and 2021.

The findings indicate that 40% of individuals in their 40s reported suffering from chronic pain. The study identified various factors that predict pain at this age, including the social class of a person’s father at birth and experiencing pain during childhood. Both short-term and chronic pain at the age of 44 were associated with pain and poor health in later stages of life, with chronic pain exhibiting the strongest associations. For instance, among those who reported chronic pain at 44, 84% still experienced “very severe” pain at the age of 50. Chronic pain, but not short-term pain, was also linked to negative mental health outcomes, reduced life satisfaction, pessimism about the future, poor sleep, and unemployment at the age of 55. Furthermore, the study discovered that pain at 44 years old predicted whether a participant had contracted COVID-19 during the 2021 survey, indicating that pain is connected to broader health vulnerabilities.

The researchers conclude that chronic pain persists throughout a person’s life and can be passed down across generations. They emphasize the importance of raising awareness about the issues related to chronic pain among both researchers and policymakers, given its detrimental effects on mental health, general well-being, and employment.

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Source: Science Daily