Dr. Lynn R. Webster The Painful Truth: What Chronic Pain Is Really Like and Why It Matters to Each of Us. What is difference between pain and chronic pain and how prevalent is chronic pain in America? Chronic pain affects 1 in 3 Americans and exerts more than a $600-billion drain on the economy annually. It is the largest invisible epidemic in the land. Having treated thousands of patients with chronic pain-often when they were at their most vulnerable-Lynn R. Webster, M.D., continues to believe there is hope.