Back pain is one of the world’s biggest health problems and is something that most people will experience during some stage in their lives.
We’ve explored just how widespread it is, its detrimental effects, and the huge cost to individuals and society. We’ve also unpacked the different types of treatment available to aid recovery.
Take a look below at 39 shocking back pain statistics:
Back Pain Statistics (Top Picks)
- 540 million people around the world are affected by back pain at any one time.
- 8 in 10 Americans will experience back pain in their lifetime.
- 5% of people struggling with back pain will go on to develop chronic back pain.
- 7.5% of the world’s population suffers from lower back pain.
- Women, those over 30 and people who are classed as obese are at a greater risk of developing low back pain.
- The cost of back pain to the US economy is estimated to be up to $635 billion each year.
- Back pain is one of the most common reasons for missing a day of work.
- Nearly 4 in 10 office workers will experience lower back pain.
2022 Back Pain Statistics
How common is back pain?
Back pain is one of the most common medical conditions, impacting 540 million people around the globe at any one time.
According to an in-depth analysis published in the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017, back pain was the leading cause of disability worldwide and prevents people from not only working, but from doing everyday simple activities.
Research by the Mayo Clinic also found that a back problem is the third most common reason for a visit to the doctor’s office.
So what causes it?
There is a stack of potential reasons but research indicates that the majority of cases are either mechanical or non-organic.
Basically, they aren’t caused by serious conditions, such as inflammatory arthritis, infection, fracture or cancer.
What percent of the population will experience back pain?
Experts have predicted that up to 80% of Americans will have some form of back pain in their lifetime.
One-half of all working Americans, which equates to around 80 million people, admit to having back pain symptoms each year.
95% of those suffering will recover within a few months, with 5% developing chronic LBP (i.e pain that lasts for 3 months or longer).
However, reoccurrence is frequent, ranging from a 20-44% likelihood within one year for those employed and aged between 15-64 years old.
Is back pain on the rise?
There is evidence to show that the prevalence of back pain is increasing, with reports of the condition doubling between 1992 and 2006. It is felt that an aging population could be the reason for the rising global problem.
Reports of back pain on Twitter also increased 84% during the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Using natural language processing (NLP) researchers were able to understand the impact of the pandemic on back pain — and it wasn’t good!
Who suffers from back pain the most?
Though back pain is common across all age groups, research published in the Family Practice journal highlights how those aged between 45 and 64 years old are the most likely to suffer.
Women are also more likely to report suffering from back pain when compared to men.
- Back pain impacts 540 million people around the globe at any one time.
- Back pain is the third most common reason to visit the doctor’s office.
- Up to 80% of Americans will have some form of back pain in their lifetime.
- 5% of people struggling with back pain will go on to develop a long-term, chronic back issue.
- The number of people with reported back pain doubled between 1992 and 2006.
- Women aged between 45 and 65 years old are most likely to suffer from back pain.
Sources: The Guardian | National Library of Medicine | American Association of Neurological Surgeons | American Chiropractic Association | Aetna | International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health | Family Practice | National Library of Medicine
Low Back Pain Statistics
How many people suffer from low back pain?
7.5% of the world’s population suffers from low back pain.
This is according to research published by the Annals of Translational Medicine, comparing data from 1990 to 2017.
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and the American Chiropractic Association have both stated that 80% of the US population will experience lower back pain in their lifetime.
With acute and chronic low back pain being one of the top five reasons for visiting an emergency department in the country.
Who is affected by low back pain?
People over 30 and those that are obese or carry extra weight are more likely to suffer with low back pain.
In terms of gender, nearly a third of the female adult population suffer from LBP, compared to a quarter of the male adult population.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shared the breakdown by age group when it comes to back pain over a three month period. Please see the table below:
|Percent of adults with pain during the past 3 months|
|75 years and over||29.7||37.3|
It is thought that people with physically demanding jobs; physical and mental conditions and smokers, are also at far greater risk of suffering from this ailment.
Is low back pain during pregnancy common?
80% of pregnant women state low back pain affects their daily routine and 10% report that they are unable to work.
The University of Michigan carried out research highlighting that approximately half of pregnant women will have significant complaints of backache.
It is also the most common cause of sick leave after birth with LBP increasing even more after the menopause.
That said, the American Physical Therapy Association explained that women (20%) are less likely to report that low back pain affects their ability to do their work, as opposed to men (31%).
- 7.5% of the world’s population suffers from low back pain.
- 80% of the US population will experience LBP in their lifetime.
- Women, those over 30 and people who are classed as obese are at a greater risk of developing low back pain.
- 8 in 10 pregnant women state that low back pain impacts on their daily routine, with 1 in 10 being unable to work.
Sources: Annals of Translational Medicine | National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke | BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders | American Chiropractic Association | Cleveland Clinic | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention | National Library of Medicine
Back Pain Cost Statistics
How much does back pain cost the US economy?
According to an estimate by the Nevada Comprehensive Pain Center, based on data from the National Institutes of Health, back pain costs the US economy between $560 to $635 billion annually.
This is a combination of healthcare costs, plus losses associated with work absenteeism.
How much do Americans spend on back pain?
Americans spend at least $50 billion annually on treating back pain.
The American Chiropractic Association states that if you then add in lost wages and decreased productivity (often called indirect costs), that figure easily rises to more than $100 billion.
- Estimates suggest back pain costs the US economy up to $635 billion each year.
- Americans spend at least $50 billion on treating back pain annually.
Sources: American Chiropractic Association | The Good Body | Nevada Comprehensive Pain Center
Workplace Back Pain Statistics
How common is work-related back pain?
Back pain is one of the most common reasons for missing work.
One-half of all Americans in employment admit to having these symptoms annually, with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics confirming that workers take an average of 12 sick days to recuperate before going back to work.
How many office workers have back pain?
It’s estimated that as many as 38% of office workers will experience lower back pain.
Further research by the American Physical Therapy Association found that 54% of Americans who experience pain, spend most of their day at work sitting.
What is the percentage of back injuries in the workplace?
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.
What profession has the most back problems?
Nursing professionals are considered to be the profession that experiences the most back problems.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics discovered the most affected occupations that experienced musculoskeletal disorders, and had to take a period of leave from the workplace, were:
- 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%)
- Back pain is the most common reason for missing a day of work.
- 38% of office workers will experience lower back pain.
- One million back injuries are sustained in the workplace each year.
- Nursing assistants, stock and order fillers and laborers, are thought to be the professions most affected by back pain.
Sources: American Chiropractic Association | BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders | Cision PRWeb | The Good Body
Back Pain and the Impact on Sleep Statistics
Does back pain affect sleep?
37% of adults say back pain has affected their ability to get a good night’s sleep.
The National Sleep Foundation shared the 2015 Sleep in America Poll which highlighted there’s an average 42 minutes sleep debt when people suffer with chronic pain, compared to 14 minutes for those experiencing acute pain.
Anyone who wants to improve their sleep, can check out The Good Body’s list of the top things to help your slumber.
Can lower back pain cause insomnia?
One of the most commonly reported side effects by those suffering with back pain is insomnia.
Knowing which precedes the other is difficult to determine, however chronic pain is shown to play havoc with our sleep.
- 37% of adults say back pain impacts on their ability to get a good night’s sleep.
- People with chronic pain sleep for an average of 42 minutes less than those who live pain-free.
- Insomnia is one of the most commonly reported side effects of back pain.
Sources: Cision PRWeb | Sleep Foundation | National Library of Medicine | The Good Body
Back Pain Treatment Statistics
What is the best way to relieve back pain?
Exercise is one effective way to enjoy immediate relief from back pain, however you must speak to your doctor before taking up a new regime.
49% of those with back pain will turn to pain killers as their first treatment option for back pain, despite them only being designed for short-term relief and just to treat the symptoms.
In a survey carried out by Statista in 2017, respondents shared their go-to methods:
- Painkillers – 49%
- Physical rest – 32%
- Specific back exercises – 30%
- Moving a bit every day – 28%
- Analgesic ointment and patches – 25%
Booking an appointment with a physical therapist or chiropractor can be a more effective way to get to the root cause of the condition.
Alternatively many find joining a back pain support group to be a positive move. Of course not to treat their condition, but to build a strong network of support.
Ready to take control of your back pain?
There are a number of alternative treatment options that have been proven to help, including massage, acupressure and yoga.
TENS therapy is also used by many back pain sufferers.
Take a look at our article reviewing the best TENS units on the market – including a few low-priced options that are ideal for beginners.