SOURCE: PriCara(TM), Unit of Ortho-McNeil, Inc.

February 28, 2007 07:00 ET

Chronic Pain Up Almost 40 Percent Among U.S. Workers in Past Decade

But Most Employees in Pain Still Go to Work, Benchmark Study Finds

RARITAN, NJ -- (MARKET WIRE) -- February 28, 2007 -- Persistent, chronic pain has risen dramatically among full-time U.S. workers in the past 10 years, but workers today opt to go to their jobs rather than call in sick, leading to a growing trend of presenteeism -- a negative impact on work despite being physically present at the job.

These data, released today, are from a 2006 national survey conducted by Harris Interactive® on "Pain in the Workplace" (, sponsored by PriCara™, Unit of Ortho-McNeil, Inc., and conducted in partnership with the National Pain Foundation (NPF). The survey was an update to the 1996 Louis Harris & Associates poll on the subject, sponsored by Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceutical, Inc.

"Chronic pain appears to be increasing in prevalence among U.S. workers as Americans age and lead more sedentary lifestyles," said Rollin Gallagher, M.D., M.P.H., editor-in-chief of the NPF Web site (, a founding and current member of the Board of the NPF and clinical professor and director, Center for Pain Medicine, Research and Policy of the University of Pennsylvania. "This survey indicates that employees with chronic pain must become their own advocates, understand the impact of their chronic pain and work with their healthcare provider to identify appropriate treatment options."

Chronic pain, defined in the survey as pain that lasts for at least six months, was more common in the workplace in 2006 than it was in 1996 (26 percent vs. 19 percent).

Today, almost nine in 10 employees with chronic pain (89 percent) typically go to work rather than stay home when experiencing chronic pain, the survey found. The same percentage of employees (89 percent) reported experiencing chronic pain at work "often" or "sometimes." Ninety-five percent of employees with persistent, chronic pain reported that their pain must be moderately severe or very severe to cause them to stay home from work.

"In my practice, I am seeing an increasing number of patients for chronic pain and hearing more patients talk about how their pain affects activities of daily living," said Charles Argoff, M.D., director and assistant professor of neurology, New York University School of Medicine, New York, New York. "They're looking for ways to manage their pain, and there are treatments that can help such as diet and exercise, physical therapy, acupuncture and a variety of over-the-counter and prescription medications. Extended-release chronic pain medications, such as prescription ULTRAM® ER (tramadol HCl) extended-release tablets, taken once daily, have been shown to relieve moderate to moderately severe chronic pain in adults who need around-the-clock treatment for an extended period of time."(1)

Addressing Pain at Work

There have been positive changes in the workplace in the last decade. More than two-thirds, or 66 percent, of employers surveyed now offer worksite wellness programs to employees, compared to 40 percent in 1996. But while the number of wellness programs is relatively high, the number of programs addressing chronic pain is not. Only 22 percent of wellness programs include a component about preventing or living with chronic pain conditions.

"We have seen some improvement in the recognition of pain-related illness in the workplace, and that should be commended," said Dr. Gallagher. "But more U.S. businesses should invest in these wellness programs. Once employees are given the tools to better understand and manage their pain successfully, they can begin to improve many areas of their lives affected by their chronic pain."


Important Safety Information

Tell your healthcare professional if you have had an allergic reaction to tramadol or other opioids in the past.

ULTRAM ER must be swallowed whole, and must not be chewed, crushed or split.

Seizures have been reported in people taking tramadol, the medicine in ULTRAM ER. The risk of seizures is increased with doses of tramadol above the recommended range. Use of tramadol increases the risk of seizures in people taking antidepressants, other opioids or other drugs that can cause seizures. Risk of convulsions may also increase in people with epilepsy or a history of seizures.

Talk to your doctor if you are suicidal or have a history of drug addiction. Also talk to your doctor if you are pregnant.

ULTRAM ER should be used with caution in people taking medications such as tranquilizers, hypnotics or other opioids or alcohol. ULTRAM ER may impair your ability to perform potentially hazardous tasks, such as driving a car or operating machinery.

The most common side effects reported with ULTRAM ER were dizziness, nausea, constipation, sleepiness and feeling flushed.

For additional information and to see the full Prescribing Information, visit

About the Survey

The original "Pain in the Workplace 1996" survey was conducted by Louis Harris & Associates on behalf of Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceutical, Inc. The current "Pain in the Workplace 2006" survey was conducted by Harris Interactive® on behalf of PriCara™, Unit of Ortho-McNeil, Inc.

The 2006 survey was conducted via telephone within the United States by Harris Interactive between October 30 and December 3, 2006 among 1,103 employed U.S. adults age 18+ and 251 employment benefits managers at non-headquartered locations with 150 or more employees at the site. For the employees, figures for age, gender, race/ethnicity, education and region were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. The data for employment benefits managers were not weighted and represent only the opinions of those surveyed. With a pure probability sample of 1,103 and 251, one could say with a ninety-five percent probability that the overall results have a sampling error of +/-3 percentage points and +/-6 percentage points, respectfully. Sampling error for sub-samples would be higher and would vary. However, that does not take other sources of error into account.

The methodologies for the 1996 and 2006 surveys were identical and allow for accurate comparisons to be made between the data sets.

For more information on the survey, visit

About the National Pain Foundation

The National Pain Foundation, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, was established in 1998 to advance functional recovery of persons in pain through information, education, awareness and support. The organization was created to serve the 75 million Americans living with chronic pain. Its goal is to empower patients by helping people in pain become actively involved in the design of their treatment plan, exploring both traditional and complementary approaches to pain management. For more information on the NPF, visit

The National Pain Foundation does not endorse or recommend any specific treatment, procedure, or product.

About PriCara™, Unit of Ortho-McNeil, Inc.

Ortho-McNeil, Inc., a Johnson & Johnson company, is headquartered in Raritan, NJ, and provides innovative, high quality prescription treatments for healthcare providers and their patients in primary care, hospitals and other care facilities. PriCara™, Unit of Ortho-McNeil, Inc., is the only major healthcare organization in the United States solely dedicated to the needs of primary care providers who serve a vital role on the frontline of medicine. Ortho-McNeil, Inc., and PriCara provide medicines, education and resources in the areas of pain, gastrointestinal and infectious diseases. For more information about the company, please visit

(1) The National Pain Foundation does not endorse or recommend any specific treatment, procedure, or product.