Disability among working-age adults (aged 15 to 64)
related to pain: the most common form of disability among working-age
Within the working-age population, activity limitations related to pain or discomfort are the most widespread, having been reported by nearly 1.5 million persons aged 15 to 64. Thus, 7.5% of all working-age persons are limited in their activities due to pain or discomfort. This type of disability affects 3 out of every 4 persons with disabilities aged 15 to 64.
Working-age women are particularly affected by this less visible type of disability, 8.3% of them stating that they were limited in their activities because of pain or discomfort. By comparison, 6.7% of men aged 15 to 64 reported pain-related limitations.
The PALS questions covered not only constant pain, but also pain that reoccurs periodically, such as migraines or backache. In fact, nearly 70% of working-age persons who have pain-related limitations experience pain constantly, while recurrent periods of pain affect about 30% of them (data not shown).
Pain-related disability increases gradually from age 15 to 64, with prevalence within the total population rising from 2.0% for 15-to-24-year-olds to 5.4% for persons 25 to 44 and 13.1% for those aged 45 to 64. However, while the proportion of young adults reporting pain-related disability is quite small, this type of limitation is nevertheless reported by more than half (50.9%) of young adults aged 15 to 24 with disabilities. The gap between the sexes is also more pronounced in this age group, young women with disabilities being much more likely to have pain-related limitations (59.0%) than their male counterparts (42.6%).
Moreover, these findings raise a number of questions about the impact this less visible type of disability has on the types of supports and adaptations, in the workplace and elsewhere, that will be needed to ensure that persons affected make an effective transition from school to the labour market and participate fully in all spheres of social activity.