US Pharm. 2008;33(5):16.

The characteristics of individuals 18 years of age and older in 2006 who suffered from lower-back pain (27.4%), migraines (15.1%), or neck pain (14.3%) three months prior to being surveyed were analyzed and reported in the National Health Interview Survey (2006).

Sex: In all three categories, women exceeded men in the likelihood of experiencing pain. For migraines, the ratio of female to male sufferers was 2:1. White women had the highest rate of prevalence of neck pain (18.0%), followed by Hispanic women (16.8%), white men (13.2%), and African American women (12.6%).

Age: With increased age, the prevalence of lower-back pain rose and that of migraines declined. Age groups of 45 to 64 years, 65 to 74 years, and 75 years and older had a similar prevalence of neck pain (range 31.1%–32.2%), but the group aged 18 to 44 years had a lower prevalence (23.9%).

Race: Asian respondents had the lowest prevalence of any of the three types of pain, while American Indian and Alaskan Native respondents, combined, had the highest rate. For neck pain and lower-back pain, white subjects outnumbered African American subjects. The difference in rate of prevalence of migraines between white respondents and their African American counterparts was insignificant.

Education: Across pain categories, prevalence was lowest among individuals who attained a bachelor's degree or higher. The highest rates of prevalence in all three categories were among participants who had some amount of college education.

Family Income: There was overall consistency in the pattern of prevalence across different income levels for all types of pain. The highest prevalence was among individuals whose family income was less than $20,000, and the rate decreased overall as family income increased. The lowest prevalence was among individuals whose family income was $75,000 or more.

Poverty Level: Prevalence of lower-back pain, migraines, and neck pain was highest among poor respondents. The lowest rate of prevalence was among respondents who were not poor. Those who were categorized as "near poor" fell in between these rates.

Health Insurance: Prevalence rates of the three types of pain among participants under the age of 65 years who had private insurance or were uninsured were nearly half those of their counterparts covered by Medicaid.

Marital Status: Divorced/separated subjects, followed by widowed subjects, had the highest prevalence of neck pain and migraines; never-married subjects had the lowest prevalence rates in both categories. The prevalence of lower-back pain was highest in subjects who lived with a partner, followed closely by those who were widowed and those who were divorced/ separated. Individuals who were married had the lowest rate of prevalence of lower-back pain.

Region: Residents of the Midwest and the Northeast experienced the most lower-back pain. The South and the Midwest had the highest prevalence of migraines. The West and the Midwest were the regions where the prevalence of neck pain was highest; the South had the lowest prevalence.

To comment on this article, contact