In collaboration with Keck School of Medicine

The Impact of Chronic Pain on Healthcare Workers

When we think about chronic pain, we tend to think about those outside the healthcare industry experiencing it while those in the industry help them manage it. We may not realize that healthcare workers may also experience chronic pain, which may impact their work-life balance, impacting their ability to do their job and enjoy their home life.

Researchers set out to see what types of chronic pain healthcare workers experience and whether or not it impacts their work-life balance. Their findings were published in the December 2022 issue of the journal Work [1]. There were nearly 2,500 healthcare workers who participated in the study, which used chronic low back pain and chronic hip pain as independent variables.

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The healthcare workers were asked various questions about their experience with chronic pain, including whether it affected their family or significant other and if they felt it limited their life or work activities. All the participants worked at least 35 hours per week, and most were female between the ages of 40-64.

This study highlights the importance of helping people suffering from chronic pain find ways to improve their work-life balance. What they found was that both types of pain had a significant impact on the person’s work-life balance. The more tools they can turn to to find pain relief and be able to improve their work-life balance, the better their quality of life may also be.

For healthcare workers, it may be important to ensure they are taking adequate breaks, adjusting their schedule to one that is more manageable, taking days off, and doing things outside of work to help with pain relief. It’s also vital to improve coping skills so that the pain is acknowledged but doesn’t become the focal point. Healthcare workers often put in more hours than they should, and the stress may be high. It’s essential that they know what their limits are and that they adhere to them, so they don’t become over-stressed, which may lead to more pain.

It’s estimated that over 50 million people in the country suffer from chronic pain [2], and women suffer from it more often than men. Healthcare workers spend their hours caring for others, but self-care should be a priority when they are not at work. By including self-care, they can find some pain relief and help improve their work-life balance.

Earn an Online Postgraduate Degree in Pain Medicine

Like what you’re learning? Consider enrolling in the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC’s online, competency-based certificate or master’s program in Pain Medicine in partnership with the Keck School of Medicine of USC.


  1. Work. The impact of different pain sites on the work-life balance of healthcare workers. December 2022.
  2. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Prevalence of Chronic Pain and High-Impact Chronic Pain Among Adults. September 2018.
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Posted: February 2, 2023
<a href="" target="_self">Dr. Steven H. Richeimer</a>

Dr. Steven H. Richeimer

Steven Richeimer, M.D. is a renowned specialist on issues related to chronic pain. He is the chief of the Division of Pain Medicine at the University of Southern California. He has written or co-written a large number of scientific articles about pain medicine. He recently published an instructive book and guide for pain patients. Dr. Richeimer has given numerous lectures to medical and lay audiences throughout the U.S.

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