Back Pain Stats

  • 85% of the US population suffers from back or neck pain at some point in their lives.1
  • Back pain is the leading cause of disability in Americans under 45 years old.2
  • Back pain is the third leading cause of disability in people over 45 years of age. 2
  • More than 26 million Americans between the ages of 20-64 experience frequent back pain.2
  • Americans spend at least $50 billion* each year on back pain-and that’s just for the more easily identified costs.4
  • Back pain is the second most common reason for seeing a doctor in the US, following coughs and other respiratory infections.2
  • Back pain is the third most common reason for surgery.2
  • Failed back surgery syndrome is seen in 10-40% of patients who undergo back surgery. It is characterized by intractable pain and varying degrees of functional incapacitation occurring after spine surgery. More risks include infection, nerve damage, deterioration of health and post operative complications. 3
  • Fewer than 5% of people with back pain are good candidates for surgery.4
  • According to a recent article in the USA TODAY, “The U.S. health care system spends about as much each year on spine problems as it does on cancer.”


  1. Orthopedic Clinics of North America, Volume 35, Issue I, Pages 1-5 S. Pai, L. Sundaram
  2. Bigos S, et al. Acute Low Back Problems in Adults, Clinical Practice Guideline No. 14. Rockville, MD: U.S. Public Health Service, U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, AHCPR Pub. No. 95-0642, Dec. 1994.Eyerman, Edward MD. Journal of Neuroimaging. June 1998
  3. In Project Briefs: Back Pain Patient Outcomes Assessment Team (BOAT). In MEDTEP Update, Vol. 1 Issue 1, Agency for Health Care Policy and Research, Rockville, MD, Summer 1994.
  4. John P. Kostuik, MD, and Simeon Margolis, MD, Ph.D. Low Back Pain and Osteoporosis. The John Hopkins White Paper on Low Back Pain and Osteoporosis, 2002.

*This total represents only the more readily identifiable cost for medical care, workers compensation payments and time lost from work. It does not include costs associated with lost personal income due to acquired physical limitation resulting from a back problem and lost employer productivity due to employee medical absence.

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