Theme Pain

What does pain cost – really?

Pain costs a lot in the form of daily human suffering. There are also great financial costs linked to long-term pain conditions. What does the pain cost society if you include the cost of care, rehabilitation, and sick leave?

For society, the number of patients with long-term pain puts a huge strain on the healthcare system in the form of doctor’s visits, physiotherapy, psychological treatment, and workplace-related adaptation/training. Reduced working capacity to varying degrees leads to lead to large production losses for society.

SBU (The Swedish National Agency for Medical and Social Evaluation) has estimated the cost to Sweden at a total of approximately SEK 87.5 billion for the year 2003. Of these, SEK 7.7 billion were direct healthcare-related costs for visits to doctors and other healthcare providers, as well as medicines. The majority of the costs of approximately SEK 80 billion, or >90% of the total cost, are due to indirect costs, i.e., loss of production as a result of illness-related absence from work. 40 percent of all visits to primary care occur due to pain.

In the United States (2010), the annual total cost of chronic pain is estimated to be between USD 560-635 billion. By comparison, the corresponding cost for heart disease amounts to USD 309 billion and for cancer USD 234 billion 

The study “Pain in Europe” estimates the costs to society at 3-10 percent of gross domestic product.


• Gaskin DJ, Richard P: The economic costs of pain in the United States. J Pain 2012, 13:715–724.

• Breivik et al. BMC Public Health 2013, 13:1229

• SBU. Multimodal and interdisciplinary treatments for long-term pain. Publication No: 341. ISBN: 978-91-88437-84-6. Published: December 15, 2021.

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