• Dr. Eric Carlsen

Back Pain Facts & Statistics


4 images showing men and woman with back pain

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

References:

  1. 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.

  2. 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

  3. Vallfors B. Acute, Subacute and Chronic Low Back Pain: Clinical Symptoms, Absenteeism and Working Environment. Scan J Rehab Med Suppl 1985; 11: 1-98.

  4. The Hidden Impact of Musculoskeletal Disorders on Americans, United State Bone and Joint Initiative, 2018.

  5. Rubin Dl. Epidemiology and Risk Factors for Spine Pain. Neurol Clin. 2007; May;25(2):353-71.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

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