The quickest route to old age is along the express lanes of chronic pain.

Some people describe those pains as like being hit by a truck. Others even consider killing themselves. It's so bad that chronic pain can make a 50-year-old look, act and feel like an 80-year-old.

Talk about getting old before your time!

I only wish I was exaggerating just to make a point – but I'm not. A new study, published in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society, followed 20,000 people over the age of 50 as they carried out different tasks. Some were relatively healthy, while others were fighting chronic pain.

And the researchers uncovered a tale of two frighteningly different lifestyles – people the same age on paper, but separated by decades in behavior.

Around 91 percent of pain-free adults between 50 and 59 years old could walk several blocks with no problems, and 37 percent of them could even jog a full mile. But just 55 percent of chronic-pain patients in the same age group could walk those few easy blocks – so forget about seeing how many of them can jog the mile. Only 4 percent managed to pull that feat off.

These chronic-pain sufferers had virtually identical results to pain-free patients between 80 and 89 years old. The two groups were also similar when it came to simple tasks like eating, bathing and getting dressed.

That's bad enough… but what the numbers don't tell you is how chronic pain can break the spirit as well as the body. Many of these people have been to doctors, specialists and surgeons and come up empty – or, worse yet, with even more pain.

But there are real answers out there – and you don't need to be flying high on painkillers to find them. You just need to start your search all over again, and in the right place.

Forget your own doctor – he probably doesn't understand pain very well in the first place. Most docs will prescribe those painkillers, maybe a muscle relaxant, and then, if you complain enough, send you off to a specialist.

Sound familiar? That's a doctor's way of admitting he's clueless.

But the fact is, there are natural solutions that can end the pain for good – you just need to find the one that's right for your condition.

If you're skeptical, I can't say I blame you – but there are growing legions of people who can attest to the safe, effective solutions you won't find in Big Pharma-sponsored mainstream medicine.

And when you do get the help you need, you'll be able to act your age again – maybe even younger.