Back Pain Facts & Statistics
Although doctors of chiropractic treat more than just back pain, many patients initially visit a chiropractor looking for relief from this pervasive condition. In fact, about 31 million Americans experience low back pain at any given time.1
Interesting Facts about Back Pain
Worldwide, back pain is the single leading cause of disability, preventing many people from engaging in work as well as other everyday activities.2
Back pain is one of the most common reasons for missed work. One-half of all working Americans admit to having back pain symptoms each year.3
Back pain accounts for more than 264 million lost workdays in one year—that’s two workdays for every full-time worker in the country.4
Experts estimate that up to 80% of the population will experience back pain at some time in their lives.5
Back pain can affect people of all ages, from adolescents to the elderly.5
Back pain is the third most common reason for visits to the doctor’s office, behind skin disorders and osteoarthritis/joint disorders.6
Most cases of back pain are mechanical or non-organic—meaning they are not caused by serious conditions, such as inflammatory arthritis, infection, fracture, or cancer.7
Most people with low back pain recover, however, recurrence is common and for a small percentage of people, the condition will become chronic and disabling.7
Worldwide, years lived with disability caused by low back pain have increased by 54% between 1990 and 2015.7
Low back pain costs Americans at least $50 billion in health care costs each year8—add in lost wages and decreased productivity and that figure easily rises to more than $100 billion.9
Tips to Prevent Back Pain
There are several simple strategies that can help to prevent the onset of back pain. Among them:
Maintain a healthy diet and weight.
Remain active—under the supervision of your chiropractor.
Avoid prolonged inactivity or bed rest.
Warm-up or stretch before exercising or physical activities, such as gardening.
Maintain proper posture.
Wear comfortable, low-heeled shoes.
Sleep on a mattress of medium firmness to minimize any curve in your spine.
When lifting an object, lift with your knees, keep the object close to your body, and do not twist.
Quit smoking. Smoking impairs blood flow, resulting in oxygen and nutrient deprivation to spinal tissues.
Work with your chiropractor to ensure that your workstation is ergonomically correct.
Excerpts from National Chiropractic Association
Jensen M, Brant-Zawadzki M, Obuchowski N, et al. Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Lumbar Spine in People Without Back Pain. N Engl J Med 1994; 331: 69-116.
Hoy D, March L, Brooks P, et al The global burden of low back pain: estimates from the Global Burden of Disease 2010 study Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases Published Online First: 24 March 2014. doi: 10.1136/annrheumdis-2013-204428
Vallfors B. Acute, Subacute and Chronic Low Back Pain: Clinical Symptoms, Absenteeism and Working Environment. Scan J Rehab Med Suppl 1985; 11: 1-98.
The Hidden Impact of Musculoskeletal Disorders on Americans, United State Bone and Joint Initiative, 2018.
Rubin Dl. Epidemiology and Risk Factors for Spine Pain. Neurol Clin. 2007; May;25(2):353-71.
Sauver, JL et al. Why patients visit their doctors: Assessing the most prevalent conditions in a defined American population. Mayo Clinic Proceedings, Volume 88, Issue 1, 56–67.
Hartvigsen J et al. Low Back Pain Series: What Low Back Pain Is and Why We Need to Pay Attention. Lancet, June 2018; Volume 391, Issue 10137; p2356-2367.
In Project Briefs: Back Pain Patient Outcomes Assessment Team (BOAT). In MEDTEP Update, Vol. 1 Issue 1, Agency for Health Care Policy and Research, Rockville, MD.
Katz JN. Lumbar disc disorders and low-back pain: socioeconomic factors and consequences [review]. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2006;88(suppl 2): 21-24.