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29 Back Pain Statistics You Should Keep in Mind in 2021

written by / January 1, 2021

Back pain has become a highly common health complaint. It can be the result of an injury, strenuous activity, or an underlying medical condition. Whatever the reason, backaches can have a range of negative effects on our daily lives, preventing us from performing everyday activities. Additionally, it’s one of the leading reasons for people to miss work. As if that’s not enough, it can also interfere with our night’s rest, leaving us sleep deprived.

Check out the latest back pain statistics and find out more about the prevalence of this ailment, the available treatments, their effects, and much more.

The Most Disturbing Back Pain Statistics

  • About 80% of Americans experience a back problem at some point in their lives.
  • 54% of the people with neck or back pain have had these problems for at least 5 years.
  • Around 20% of those experiencing acute lower back pain will end up with chronic pain. 
  • For every 9 out of 10 patients, the cause of their lower back pain isn’t clearly identified.
  • A sedentary lifestyle is the cause of back pain in 54% of the cases.
  • Among athletes, gymnasts have the highest risk of back pain issues.
  • 63% of people claim that a new mattress helped them relieve their backaches.
  • Lower back pain costs the US more than $100 billion every year, according to chronic low back pain statistics.
  • Only about 5% of Americans with back pain need surgery.
  • Regardless of treatment, 90% of LBP issues resolve within 6 weeks.

The Prevalence of Back Pain

Back Pain Statistics - Featured

How common is back pain? In this section, we’ll focus on the prevalence of this type of pain. 

1. About 80% of Americans experience a back problem at some point in their lives.

(WebMD)

This devastating piece of low back pain statistics shows that about 31 million Americans suffer from this type of pain at any moment. This extremely common ailment is usually caused by strenuous activity, like carrying heavy loads or running uphill. However, sometimes something as simple as bending down to lace your shoes is enough to trigger an injury.

The majority of adults suffer from back pain to a certain degree. According to the stats on back pain prevalence, approximately 27 million Americans aged 18 or older have been afflicted with back pain. 

2. 54% of the people with neck or back pain have had these problems for at least 5 years.

(Statista)

US adults commonly mention back pain among their health complaints. According to a Statista survey from 2017 that shows chronic back pain statistics, more than half of the people with neck or back problems have been dealing with these issues for over 5 years. 

3. 60% to 70% of the people from industrialized countries will experience lower back pain during their lifetime.

(World Health Organization)

According to most lower back pain statistics, a lot of people with back pain report that the problem affects their performance at work and generally has a negative effect on their well-being.

4. About half of all US workers have back problems every year.

(American Chiropractic Association)

Americans often miss work because of back pain. Actually, this health problem is among the most common causes of work absences. According to statistics, 264 million workdays are lost every year due to back pain.

5. Recurrent episodes of LBP are quite common.

(University of Michigan)

Based on back pain stats, the majority of patients (60% to 80%) who have had an episode of acute lower back pain will experience similar symptoms within two years.

6. Around 20% of those experiencing acute lower back pain will end up with chronic pain. 

(NIH)

Back pain lasting for at least three months is generally defined as chronic.

The Causes of Back Pain

Back Pain Statistics - Sedentary Lifestyle

How does back pain start? Here, we’ll be looking at the possible causes of back pain. 

7. For every 9 out of 10 patients, the cause of their lower back pain isn’t clearly identified.

(American Family Physician)

Certain physically demanding activities may increase the risk of lower back pain, but there are a number of other lower back pain causes. This makes it hard to determine the source of a patient’s pain.

8. A sedentary lifestyle is the cause of back pain in 54% of the cases.

(The Good Body)

Since most people spend their workdays sitting, standing desks have grown in popularity. However, the findings of a small study at the University of Waterloo show that they aren’t as beneficial as claimed. In fact, 40% of the study’s participants—who previously didn’t have back problems—started experiencing lower back pain symptoms after two hours of standing. That’s why it’s instead better to change your posture often while working.

9. Stress is the cause of back pain for 29% of those with back problems.

(Statista)

Almost 30% of US adults participating in a 2017 survey claimed that stress caused their back pain. 26% said that weak muscles or a lack of exercise are the main causes of their back problems, while another 26% reported that they experienced back pain due to physical work.

10. Among athletes, gymnasts have the highest risk of back pain issues.

(Better Health)

The back pain facts indicate that 85% of gymnasts experience lower back pain. Weightlifting and wrestling follow closely behind with 80% and 69%, respectively.

11. 63% of people claim that a new mattress helped them relieve their backaches.

(Sleep.org)

An uncomfortable bed that doesn’t provide ample support can lead to back pain. If you suffer from back pain issues, you should pick a medium-firm to firm mattress since these will keep your spine in perfect alignment.

The Costs Related to Back Pain

What are the direct and indirect costs related to back pain? Here, we’ll be discussing the financial repercussions of back pain. 

12. Lower back pain costs the US more than $100 billion every year.

(American Chiropractic Association)

The back pain facts and statistics show that health care costs due to lower back pain amount to about $50 billion, while lost wages and decreased productivity account for the other half of the sum.

13. In 2007, the cost for back treatment amounted to $1,500 to $1,600 per person on average.

(Verywell Health)

According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), private insurance covers about 45% of medical fees, and Medicare pays for 23%. On the other hand, patients have to pay about 16% of their treatment costs.

Men vs. Women

Back Pain Statistics - Women

How does back pain affect women versus men? We’ll be exploring how back pain is related to gender. 

14. It’s more common for women to suffer from back pain than it is for men.

(CDC)

The latest stats on the prevalence of low back pain indicate that about 26% of men experience lower back pain in comparison to 30% of women.

15. Men are more likely than women to report that their lower back pain interferes with their work.

(American Chiropractic Association)

Although more women suffer from back problems, men more often report that back pain affects their performance at work. According to a survey conducted by the American Physical Therapy Association, 31% of men vs. 20% of women say their work suffers because of back problems.

16. About 50% of pregnant women experience back pain.

(The University of Michigan)

Pregnancy is one of the common causes of back pain in female patients. Pregnant women with lower back pain will probably experience more back problems during pregnancy. Additionally, there’s an increased risk of lower back pain after giving birth.

Negative Effects of Back Pain

How does back pain affect the lives of the people who suffer from it?

17. 37% of US adults say that back pain affects their sleep.

(American Chiropractic Association)

In addition, they complain that backaches interfere with other everyday activities. For example, 38% of them state that back problems negatively affect their exercise.

18. Over 50% of people with chronic back pain have sleep problems.

(American Chiropractic Association)

They say that chronic pain affects the quality of their sleep. This is another reason back pain should be treated, since the benefits of sleep aren’t something you should give up on so easily.

19. Lower back pain is the leading cause of disability in the world.

(BMJ Journals)

Based on 2010’s Global Burden of Disease Study, LBP caused more disability in the world than any of the other 290 conditions studied.

Treatment of Back Pain

How do you treat back pain? What are the ways in which this pain can be treated?

20. Back problems are among the top three reasons people visit the doctor’s office.

(NCBI)

Skin disorders are the most common one (with 42.7%), followed by osteoarthritis and joint disorders (33.6%) and back problems (23.9%), according to pain management statistics.

21. 37% of Americans with lower back pain don’t ask for professional help.

(American Chiropractic Association)

It’s interesting that so many people with back problems don’t go to a specialist. Those who seek professional help mostly see their primary care physician or a chiropractor.

22. 2.6 million Americans visit an emergency room every year due to lower back pain.

(EurekAlert!)

In about 60% of those cases, patients are prescribed opioids as part of their treatment.

23. Chiropractic treatments are effective 54% of the time.

(Research!America)

On the other hand, more standard physical therapy proved effective for 48% of the patients looking for back pain relief. When it comes to medications, 58% of patients stated that prescription medications were effective, while 41% of them said that over-the-counter meds helped them relieve the pain.

24. The annual revenue of the US chiropractic industry amounts to $13 billion.

(First Research)

There are over 45,000 licensed chiropractors in the US—meanwhile, there are only about 100,000 chiropractors in the world.

25. The number of Medicare beneficiaries who purchased a TENS unit doubled in a four year period.

(CMS)

TENS is short for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation. It’s a type of treatment for relieving pain that uses electric currents. A number of patients use it as their back pain treatment at home once they’ve been trained by a medical professional. In fact, the number of TENS unit purchases rose from around 40,500 in 2006 to 84,700 in 2010.

26. Only about 5% of Americans with back pain need surgery.

(HealthDay)

A discectomy, the removal of the herniated part of a disc, is the most common type of spinal surgery.

27. Regardless of treatment, 90% of LBP issues resolve within 6 weeks.

(University of Michigan)

It’s interesting that no matter what kind of lower back pain treatment is applied, about 90% of lower back pain problems get resolved within six weeks.

28. Yoga can relieve back pain for up to 12–24 weeks.

(ResearchGate)

Besides relieving pain, yoga can also reduce the level of functional disability in people experiencing back pain.

29. Pain is among the top three medical conditions that are treated with cannabidiol (CBD).

(NCBI)

About two-thirds of CBD users said that they use it to treat a medical condition. The majority of them use CBD products to treat pain, anxiety, or depression.

Conclusion

The majority of the population has had or will have at least one episode of back pain in their lives. Fortunately, most people with back problems only experience acute pain, which usually resolves itself within six weeks. As you can see, this common ailment can negatively affect our daily activities, and it definitely deserves our full attention. Hopefully, these back pain statistics for 2021 will put more focus on this prevalent problem, showing everyone that taking care of their back is of vital importance.

FAQs

What is the most common cause of back pain?

A torn or pulled muscle or ligament is the most common cause of lower back pain. Other common injuries that cause low back pain are compression of nerve roots, intervertebral disc damage, and improper movement of the spinal joints.

(Spine-Health)

What percentage of the population has back pain?

Back pain is a very common ailment in the US. About 16 million adults (about 8% of adults) suffer from chronic back pain. In addition, some studies show that about 80% of people will experience back problems in their lives.

(Health Policy Institute, NCBI)

How common is low back pain?

Back pain is one of the most common complaints among patients. Based on the latest back pain statistics, in the US, about 80% of people will experience an episode of low back pain at least once in their lifetime.

(Healthline)

Sources