Back Injury Statistics

21 Back Injury Statistics: Spine-chilling Facts and Figures

Back injuries can leave people feeling helpless, isolated and in pain. But take solace in the fact that you are not alone!

We have done our research so keep reading to find out just how common they are, what jobs put you at higher risk of incurring them and learn about the eye-watering cost to society.

We all know that back injuries cause back pain. But did you know how widespread this health issue is, and how debilitating it can be?

Back Injury Stats and Facts: A Quick Summary

  • A staggering 80% of adults are estimated to experience a back injury in their lifetime
  • For 5% of people the condition will become chronic and disabling
  • Low back pain is more prevalent in high-income countries as opposed to low
  • Back injury is the top cause of a ‘job-related disability
  • More than one million back injuries are sustained in the workplace annually
  • Nursing assistants suffer the most from work-related musculoskeletal disorders involving the back
  • Americans spend at least $50 billion annually on treating back pain
  • Back pain accounts for more than 264 million lost work days in one year

Key Statistics on Back Injuries: Infographic

Back Injury Statistics - infographic

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21 Back Injury Statistics

Back injuries are a global problem that there’s no escaping. According to Manchester Metropolitan University if you’re an adult of working age, you are the most vulnerable.

However, we are all potentially at risk as there are many different causes.

Here is our list of 21 spine-chilling statistics all about back injuries:

1. A staggering 80% of adults (from adolescents to the elderly) are estimated to experience an injury of this sort in their lifetime.

You’re probably wondering what causes it and this can be a struggle to identify.

The Mayo Clinic has identified some to the top reasons:

  • Muscle or ligament strain
  • Bulging or ruptured disks
  • Arthritis
  • Skeletal irregularities
  • Osteoporosis

80% of adults will experience a back injury in their lifetime

2. Low back pain is a very common health problem worldwide and a major cause of disability — affecting performance at work and our general well-being.

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:

3. The majority of people (approximately 95%) with low back pain will recover within a few months.

But the bad news is:

4. For a small percentage (5%) of people, the condition will become chronic and disabling.

And that’s not all!

5. Unfortunately reoccurrence is common, ranging from 20-44% within 12 months for working populations (those aged 15-64 years old who are employed).

A study involving almost 1,000 people over a period of 12 months, concluded that one-third of patients are likely to have a recurrent episode, with approximately half having to seek care.

The analysis also revealed that having 2 previous experiences of LBP will triple the odds of getting it again within 1 year.

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6. LBP is more prevalent in high-income countries as opposed to low.

A systematic review was carried out that examined all data on this topic.

It unearthed that in high-income countries this figure stood at 30%, in comparison to low-income at 18%.

7. The global figure for people living with a disability caused by this has increased by 54% between 1990 and 2015.

Back injuries in the workplace

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:

8. 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.

Lower back injuries account for 80% of all workplace back injuries

9. These injuries affect more than 600,000 American workers per annum, to the tune of more than $50 billion each year.

10. A back injury is the top cause of a ‘job-related disability’ and a large contributor to missed work days.

11. One in every five injuries and illnesses in the workplace is for this very reason.

12. After the common cold, it is the biggest reason for absenteeism from work. This is a problem for both employers and employees.

Occupations most at risk of back injuries

There are certain jobs that place workers at a higher risk of experiencing them.

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.

Read on and check if your job is on the list below:

13. In 2016, musculoskeletal disorders involving the back accounted for 38.5 percent of all work-related musculoskeletal disorders with nursing assistants taking the most days off work as a result of a back injury.

See the other occupations close behind:

  1. Nursing assistants (52.8%)
  2. Stock and order fillers (45.7%)
  3. Laborers and freight, stock, and material movers (43%)
  4. Maintenance and repair workers (42.5%)
  5. Janitors and cleaners (37.5%)
  6. Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers (32.4%)

Nursing assistants take more sick days due to back injury than any other occupation

14. Workers in the healthcare industry sustain 4.5 times more overexertion injuries than any other type of worker.


15. US workers who suffered this kind of injury took an average of 12 days to recuperate before returning to work.

16. For some industries, injuries to the back result in a higher rate of job transfer or restriction, as opposed to days away from work.

For example, in general merchandise stories, back injuries result in 31.8 cases per 10,000 for job transfers, or some sort of restriction to what workers can do.

Do you want to know what the most alarming fact is here???

17. Up to 1/3 of back injuries could be prevented through a better designed job workspace.

Better designed workspaces could prevent one third of back injuries

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 at the same university, used ergonomic and health risk calculations to work out that the best sit-stand ratio lays between 1:1 and 1:3.

So for an eight hour work day, the highest ratio works out to standing for a full 45 minutes every hour.

The key take-away here is to keep active before back pain takes a grip on you and you struggle to be mobile.

The huge cost of back injuries

Any back-related injury is a costly affair for everyone involved!

Here are some real shockers:

18. 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:

19. In the US, back disorders account for over 24% of all occupational injuries and illnesses involving days away from work.

20. Back pain accounts for more than 264 million lost work days in one year — that’s two work days for every full-time worker in the country.

21. Productivity losses from missed work cost employers $225.8 billion, or $1,685 per employee, each year.

The cost of productivity losses from missed work days each year

These figures have been calculated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). All employers are affected by these indirect costs and even those who don’t fund health insurance!

If that wasn’t enough to make you take preventative measures against any injury happening to your back, a must read is our compilation of alarming back pain statistics.


  1. The Good Body. (2019) 34 Of The Most Surprising (And Alarming) Back Pain Statistics. [Online] Available from: [Accessed 15 December 2019].
  2. World Health Organization. (2013) Low back pain. [Online] Available from: [Accessed 15 December 2019].
  3. Freburger, A. E. et al (2009) The Rising Prevalence of Chronic Low Back Pain. [Online] Available from: [Accessed 6 January 2020].
  4. Freburger, A. E. et al. (see footnote 3)
  5. Freburger, A. E. et al. (see footnote 3)
  6. Rheumatology International. (2014) Real-world incidence and prevalence of low back pain using routinely collected data. [Online] Available from: [Accessed 15 December 2019].
  7. American Chiropractic Association. (2019) Back Pain Facts and Statistics. [Online] Available from: [Accessed 15 December 2019].
  8. University of Maryland – Department of Environmental Safety, Sustainability and Risk. (2019) Back Injuries Fact Sheet. [Online] Available from: [Accessed 15 December 2019].
  9. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (year) Back Disorders and Injuries. [Online] Available from: [Accessed 15 December 2019].
  10. University of Maryland (see footnote 8)
  11. Cone Health. (2012) Back Injury Statistics. [Online] Available from: [Accessed 15 December 2019].
  12. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (see footnote 13)
  13. Cone Health (see footnote 12)
  14. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2016) Nonfatal Occupational Injuries and Illnesses Requiring Days Away From Work, 2015. [Online] Available from: [Accessed 15 December 2019].
  15. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2018) Head, back, and hand injuries resulting in days away from work or job transfer or restriction, 2018. [Online] Available from: [Accessed 15 December 2019].
  16. Cone Health (see footnote 12)
  17. Cone Health (see footnote 12)
  18. United States Bone and Joint Initiative. (2018) The Hidden Impact of Musculoskeletal Disorders on Americans. [Online] Available from: [Accessed 15 December 2019].
  19. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2016) Worker Productivity Measures. [Online] Available from: [Accessed 17 December 2019].

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