Back injuries can leave people feeling helpless, isolated and with serious back pain. If you’re suffering, then the stats show you’re not alone!
We’ve done our research and discovered just how common they are, what occupations are at higher risk and the eye-watering cost to society.
Back Injury Stats and Facts: A Quick Summary
- It’s estimated 2 million back injuries occur annually in the US
- A staggering 80% of adults are estimated to experience a back injury in their lifetime
- For 5% of back injury sufferers the condition will become chronic and disabling
- Back injury is the top cause of ‘job-related disability’
- More than one million back injuries are sustained in the workplace annually
- Nursing assistants suffer the most work-related back injuries
Key Statistics on Back Injuries: Infographic
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19 Back Injury Statistics
According to Manchester Metropolitan University, if you’re an adult of working age, you are the most at risk of experiencing a back injury.
If that’s you, you need to read our list of 19 spine-chilling back injury statistics:
1. 80% of adults (from adolescents to the elderly) are estimated to experience a back injury in their lifetime.
There are many different causes, see below the top reasons identified by the Mayo Clinic:
- Muscle or ligament strain
- Bulging or ruptured disks
- Skeletal irregularities
2. It’s estimated that 2 million back injuries occur annually in the US.
The majority are as a result of stressful postures in everyday life or workplace injuries, with just 8 to 15% thought to occur as a result of direct trauma to the spine such as a fall.
3. Low back pain is the worldwide leading cause of disability.
Researchers state personal factors like metabolism, biochemistry, physical factors (a long back), and depressive tendencies have been identified as placing people at higher risk.
They also believe that there are environmental factors to consider such as:
- Job satisfaction
- Working with heavy weights
- Lengthy periods of standing
- Forward bending
- Carrying school backpacks
We have some good news though:
4. 95% of people with low back pain will recover within a few months.
Some people however are not so lucky…
5. 5% of the population’s low back pain will become chronic and disabling.
6. Reoccurrence of low back pain is common, ranging from 20-44% within 12 months.
The study involved almost 1000 employed people, aged between 15-64 years old.
Tracked over 12 months, results showed that one-third of patients had a recurrent episode, with approximately half having to seek care.
7. Two previous experiences of low back pain, triple your chances of getting it again in one year.
8. The US has the highest reported numbers of low back pain worldwide.
A systematic review was carried out that examined all the worldwide data on this topic.
It unearthed that in high-income countries 30% of the population experienced low back pain at some time, in comparison to low-income countries at 18%.
9. Americans spend at least $50 billion annually on treating back pain.
We’ve listed some of the most common and alternative treatments that back injury sufferers explore:
- Physical therapy
- Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) therapy
Statistics about Back Injuries at Work
We spend so much time of our lives at work and, rather worryingly, every year there are high numbers of work-related back injuries reported:
1. More than one million back injuries are sustained in the workplace annually.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a back-related injury accounts for one in every five injuries and illnesses at work.
BLS ran a survey and discovered that 80% of these injuries were to the lower back and, unsurprisingly, 75% of these happened during lifting tasks.
2. Back injuries impact more than 600,000 American workers per annum, costing the economy more than $50 billion each year.
That’s because production is slowed, turnover is reduced and medical bills are increased.
3. A back injury is the top cause of a ‘job-related disability’.
4. One in every five injuries and illnesses in the workplace is due to a back injury.
5. After the common cold, low back pain is the biggest reason for absenteeism from work.
In fact, it accounts for 15% of sick leave!
6. Back pain accounts for more than 264 million lost work days per year — that’s two work days for every full-time worker in the country.
High-Risk Occupations for Back Injuries
There are certain jobs that place workers at a higher risk of experiencing a back injury.
Anything that involves repetitive actions like lifting materials, sudden movements, whole body vibrations, lifting and twisting simultaneously or bending for long periods of time, will make you more prone.
See if your occupation made the list below.
1. In 2016, musculoskeletal disorders involving the back accounted for 38.5% of all work-related musculoskeletal disorders.
2. Nursing assistants take the most days off work as a result of a back injury.
To put this into numbers, 10,330 back-related musculoskeletal disorder cases were reported by nursing assistants in 2016.
See the occupations that suffer the most below (the percentage shown is the number of musculoskeletal disorders involving the back as a proportion of the rest of the body):
- Nursing assistants (52.8%)
- Stock and order fillers (45.7%)
- Laborers and freight, stock, and material movers (43%)
- Maintenance and repair workers (42.5%)
- Janitors and cleaners (37.5%)
- Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers (32.4%)
3. Workers in the healthcare industry sustain 4.5 times more overexertion injuries than any other type of worker.
US workers who suffered this kind of injury took an average of 12 days to recuperate before returning to work.
A report published by the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry, found those that work within nursing home environments are most at risk.
However, do you want to know what the most alarming fact is here?
4. Up to 1/3 of back injuries could be prevented by a better designed workspace.
As you can learn from our back pain statistics, the standing desk has grown in popularity but isn’t necessarily good for the body.
The University of Waterloo in Canada carried out an investigation into their effectiveness and discovered that 40% of people without back problems actually developed LBP after standing regularly for two hours.
Worst still, they were three times more likely to experience chronic back problems later on in life.
That said, a completely sedentary lifestyle isn’t good for your health.
Important tip here:
Jack Callaghan, a professor in the Department of Kinesiology also at the University of Waterloo, used ergonomic and health risk calculations to work out that the best sit-stand ratio lays between 1:1 and 1:3.
During an eight hour work day, the highest ratio works out to standing for a full 45 minutes every hour.
The key takeaway here is to keep active before back pain takes a grip on you! Explore our list of the best yoga poses for back pain and get started today.
- The Good Body (2020). 39 Back Pain Statistics (To Send a Shiver Down Your Spine) [Online]. Available from: https://www.thegoodbody.com/back-pain-statistics/ [Accessed 22 June 2021]. ↩
- Michigan Municipal League (2021). A Basic Plan for Preventing Back Injuries [Online]. Available from: http://www.mml.org/insurance/risk_resources/publications/s_and_h_manual/13A.pdf [Accessed 22 June 2021]. ↩
- Gordon, S. (2014). Low Back Pain Leading Cause of Disability: Study [Online]. WebMD. Available from: https://www.webmd.com/back-pain/news/20140325/low-back-pain-leading-cause-of-disability-worldwide-study [Accessed 22 June 2021]. ↩
- Freburger, J. et al. (2015). The Rising Prevalence of Chronic Low Back Pain [Online]. US National Library of Medicine. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4339077/ [Accessed 22 June 2021]. ↩
- Freburger, J. et al. (see footnote 4) ↩
- Freburger, J. et al. (see footnote 4) ↩
- Machado, G. et al. (2017). Can Recurrence After an Acute Episode of Low Back Pain Be Predicted? [Online]. Oxford Academic. Available from: https://academic.oup.com/ptj/article/97/9/889/3884292 [Accessed 22 June 2021]. ↩
- Fatoye, F. Gebrye, T. and Odeyemi, I. (2019). Real-world incidence and prevalence of low back pain using routinely collected data [Online]. Springer Link. Available from: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00296-019-04273-0 [Accessed 22 June 2021]. ↩
- Fatoye, F. Gebrye, T. and Odeyemi, I. (see footnote 8) ↩
- The Good Body (see footnote 1) ↩
- University of Maryland (2005). Back Injuries Fact Sheet [Online]. Available from: https://essr.umd.edu/back-injuries-fact-sheet [Accessed 22 June 2021]. ↩
- SafetyNow ILT (2020). Back Safety – Stats and Facts [Online]. Available from: https://ilt.safetynow.com/back-safety-stats-and-facts/ [Accessed 22 June 2021]. ↩
- National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (2020). Low Back Pain Fact Sheet [Online]. Available from: https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Fact-Sheets/Low-Back-Pain-Fact-Sheet [Accessed 22 June 2021]. ↩
- University of Maryland (see footnote 11) ↩
- Amundson, G. (2021). Low Back Pain [Online]. Spine Universe. Available from: https://www.spineuniverse.com/conditions/back-pain/low-back-pain [Accessed 22 June 2021]. ↩
- Lezin, N. and Watkins-Castillo, S. (2018). The Hidden Impact of Musculoskeletal Disorders on Americans [Online]. PublicBone and Joint Initiative USA . Available from: https://www.boneandjointburden.org/docs/BMUS%20Impact%20of%20MSK%20on%20Americans%20booklet_4th%20Edition%20%282018%29.pdf [Accessed 21 June 2021]. ↩
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2018). Back injuries prominent in work-related musculoskeletal disorder cases in 2016 [Online]. Available from: https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2018/back-injuries-prominent-in-work-related-musculoskeletal-disorder-cases-in-2016.htm [Accessed 22 June 2021]. ↩
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (see footnote 17) ↩
- SafetyNow ILT (see footnote 12) ↩
- University of Maryland (see footnote 11) ↩