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Back Pain Facts and Statistics: How Common Do You Have Back Pain?

Charles M. Carlsen

Published May 24, 2024
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That nagging back discomfort you've dealt with? You're far from alone - back pain is actually one of the leading culprits driving people to doctors and ERs. Whether it's a dull ache or debilitating flare-up, up to 200 millions people seek relief from this persistent problem annually.
Back pain can affect anyone at any age, often from mechanical or nonspecific causes. Understanding these differences helps guide proper treatment plans for patients of all ages. Knowing red flags like nerve dysfunction ensures serious conditions aren't overlooked, allowing tailored conservative treatments to improve quality of life without over-relying on medications.

Being familiar with Back Pain Prevalence

How frequent back pain is among individuals must be explored to comprehend its prevalence. 84% of adults will encounter back pain at some stage in their lives with chronic back pain impacting, up to 23%. While youth are less impacted they are not entirely immune; 1% of twelve year olds and 5% of fifteen year olds mention experiencing it.
This back discomfort often drives people to seek emergency care, such is the persistent and disabling nature of many cases. The staggering $200 billion yearly price tag of managing back pain underscores its massive personal impacts and economic toll.

Common Causes of Back Discomfort

Common causes of back discomfort often include muscle strain or ligament damage. Heavy lifting, frequent bending, and twisting can stretch these tissues. Poor posture puts extra stress on your spine's muscles and discs.
Prolonged sitting also leads to weakened muscles which support the vertebrae. Obesity contributes by increasing spinal load, causing quicker wear on facet joints and discs. Low physical activity reduces flexibility making injuries more likely when performing sudden movements.
Non-specific low back pain is common among those aged 35-55 years but affects all ages due to factors like occupational hazards or sedentary lifestyles. Note any persistent symptoms; consult a doctor for further evaluation if necessary.

Back Pain and the Workplace Connection

For many of us desk-bound workers, simply sitting for long stretches can be a prime instigator of back issues. Over 80% of workers experience it at some point in their careers. Poor posture and improper desk setup are common causes.
These issues contribute significantly to missing work days; about one-third of all missed workdays relate directly to these problems. Ergonomic chairs and adjustable desks reduce risk by promoting better posture. Regular breaks improve circulation and ease muscle tension too, lowering the chance of injury over time.
Investing in ergonomic office equipment might seem costly but well worth it when considering productivity gains from a healthier workforce.

Effect Of Back Pain on Quality of Life

For many office workers, simply sitting for hours on end can trigger back issues. Over 80% Many office workers find that sitting for periods can lead to problems. A large majority, 80% encounter this issue at some point, in their careers often to poor posture or incorrect desk and chair arrangements. The resulting discomfort can persist over time affecting mobility, sleep quality, mental well being and overall quality of life. This prompts individuals to turn to medications including addictive opioids underscoring the pressing need for safer treatment alternatives such as spinal manipulation.
Research indicates that this drug free approach effectively alleviates pain without the need for prolonged bed rest or heavy medication. It has also been shown to expedite recovery in physical therapy sessions, for individuals. Health organizations recommend considering these methods before exploring surgical options. Opting for these therapies not only enhances physical health but also significantly boosts emotional well being.

Treatment Options for Relief

For relief, consider non drug options first. Acupuncture shows slightly greater pain and function improvement in 1-6 months. Dry needling also helps with low-back pain based on an evaluation of 16 studies involving over a thousand participants.
Low-level laser therapy may work but only with higher doses for short-term conditions less than 30 months old. The American College of Physicians includes this as an initial treatment option despite its low-quality evidence status. Massage can offer slight improvements within six months though effects taper off later.
Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) aids short-term pain intensity and physical functioning too. Spinal manipulation provides moderate quality results reducing acute back discomfort up to six weeks while mobilization improves chronic cases longer term.

Preventative Measures and Lifestyle Changes

To prevent back pain, stay active and maintain good posture. Strong core muscles support your spine. Engage in exercises that strengthen the back and abdomen regularly.
While avoiding heavy lifting altogether is ideal, we know that's not always feasible. If you must lift, using proper form by bending at the knees is crucial to prevent injury. Use ergonomic furniture for workspaces; ensure chairs provide proper lumbar support.
Stress management is crucial—chronic stress can worsen muscle tension leading to discomfort. If prone to anxiety or depression, seek help as these conditions can exacerbate pain symptoms. Regular sleep patterns also contribute positively toward spinal health.

Interesting Facts about Back Pain

  • Across the world, the back pain is considered as the top reason for disability as it affects people in their normal occupation like work or any other activity.
  • Back pain is the second most frequently reported reason for remaining absent from work. The fact that half of all American workers state experiencing back pain problems yearly is a proof of this statement.
  • Lower back pain is responsible for more than 264 million working days lostwithin one year, or the equivalent of two missed working days per full-time employee. The figure includes both short-term absences and long-term work incapacity.
  • Accordingly, specialists expect that approximately 80% of the population have struggled with back pain at some point in their life.
  • People of all ages suffer from back pain; from youngsters to old people with no exceptions.
  • Back pain appears to be the third most commonly reported cause for visits to medical doctors behind skin complaints and arthritis/joint disorders.
  • Usually, back pain is mechanical or non-organic, therefore this kind of disease is not related to the inflammatory arthritis, infections, fractures or cancers.
  • Most people with low back pain recover from their injury and return to normal state of health. Unfortunately, their conditions often relapse and a small number of people end up with chronic and disabling back pain.
  • Globally, years of healthy life lost due to low back pain disability have increased by 54% during the said period of 1990 – 2015.
  • Americans spend at least $50 billion, just on health care expenses, annually—and do not forget lost productivity and wages, the total price soars to more than $200 billion and beyond.

Global Statistics on Spinal Health Issues

Percentage of 18+ years adults with any pain and pain by body region in the past 3 months: United States, 2019
Low back pain peaks at age 85 and affects the elderly most. In 2020, it caused 69 million years lived with disability (YLDs) worldwide. Major risk factors include smoking, obesity, and poor workplace ergonomics—accounting for nearly 40% of YLDs related to low back pain.
Hungary and the Czech Republic have high rates of this issue. Aging populations in East Asia, South Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean drive increased cases there. The societal impact is vast; lost workdays reduce productivity significantly.
Public health strategies need updating to address these risks effectively.
Almost everyone experiences back pain at some point making it a common issue that can lead to missed work and visits to the doctor. While muscle strains and bad posture are causes it's important to take measures, for maintaining good long term back health.


To maintain a back and reduce the risk of pain it's important to focus on consistent exercise, weight management and safe lifting practices. Treatment options range, from using over the counter medications to undergoing physical therapy sessions and in cases surgery may be required. Being aware of these options empowers you to take steps towards ensuring a pain back and overall quality of life in the long run.


1. Back Pain.Vincent E. Casiano; Gurpreet Sarwan; Alexander M. Dydyk; Matthew Varacallo.Author Information and Affiliations. Last Update: December 11, 2023.

2. healthdirect australia Back pain

3. O'Sullivan PB, Caneiro J, O'Sullivan K, et alBack to basics: 10 facts every person should know about back painBritish Journal of Sports Medicine 2020;54:698-699.

4. Hands Down Better Back Pain Facts and Statistics

5. ‌January 2020 Low-Back Pain and Complementary Health Approaches: What You Need To Know

6. February 2023 Back Pain

7. IHME May 22, 2023 The Lancet: New study shows low back pain is the leading cause of disability around the world
Article by
Charles M. Carlsen
Hello! I'm Charles, As co-founder of Drsono, I contribute to the DRSONO blog, providing valuable insights and up-to-date information on ultrasound technology and diagnostic imaging.

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