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 percent 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 percent of respondents said greater stress, pressure, anxiety or worry related to the recession had a major effect on their pain.
  • 29 percent said working harder, either at work (17 percent) or at home (17 percent), had a big impact on their pain.
  • 21 percent said recession-related health problems, such as sleeplessness, eating habits or cutting back on health care, had a big effect on their pain.
  • 34 percent reported having suffered from acute back pain in the past year, while 48 percent 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 percent versus 56 percent for those without children in the home.
  • 78 percent 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 percent of those with pain said they'd consulted a health care professional. Of those, 90 percent 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 percent 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.

More information

The American Psychological Association offers tips for managing stress in tough economic times.

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

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