22 Back-Breaking Facts About Back Pain (2022 Edition)

Here at the chiropractic clinic, we are well-acquainted with all kinds of back pain. (We’re even better acquainted with relieving pain if you need assistance in that area.) From your standard poor posture and desk job combination to ongoing chronic conditions, back pain affects most of us in our lifetimes . . . even if it can feel isolating to experience. Today, we wanted to share some of the shocking back pain statistics that blew our minds. Let’s jump straight in!

1. Experts Predict 80% Of Americans Will Experience Back Pain In Their Lives

Source: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and the American Chiropractic Association have both stated that 80% of the population will experience lower back pain.

2. Back pain affects almost 1/3 of women, compared to almost 1/4 of men

In fact, across every age group, women reported significantly higher rates of back pain! The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provided a table showing reported back pain over a three-month period and the results are telling . . .

Percent of adults with pain during the past 3 months

Age Group Male Female
18-44 years 21.4% 26.1%
45-54 years 31.4% 33.6%
55-64 years 34.9% 35.1%
65-74 years 32.2% 34.3%
75 years and over 29.7% 37.3%

3. However, more men report that back pain affects their employment. (Approximately 31% of men compared to 20% of women.)


4. Does It Surprise You That Back Pain Is The Most Common Reason For Missing Work?

Source: Hands Down Better.org

While we’re on the subject, it shocked us to learn that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released that workers take an average of 12 sick days off before returning to work!

5. After an extensive study of all available care for low back problems, the federal agency for Health Care Policy and Research (now the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality) recommended that low back pain sufferers choose the most conservative care first.  It recommended spinal manipulation as the only safe and effective, non-drug form of initial professional treatment for acute low back problems in adults.

Source: Back Pain Facts & Statistics by Hands Down Better

6. Over 20% of pain-related suicides are a result of back pain

Source. On a sobering note, over 20% of pain-related suicides are a result of back pain. The most common conditions are listed as:

  1. Back pain (22.6%)
  2. Cancer (12%)
  3. Arthritis (7.9%)
  4. Migraine (5.2%)
  5. Fibromyalgia (5.1%)
  6. Diabetes, including diabetic neuropathy (4.9%)
  7. Headache (4.6%)

7. During the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers used NLP (natural language processing) to monitor Twitter – and reports of back pain increased by 84% during the first year.


8. Only 5% of the 56 million Americans with back pain actually need surgery


This statistic didn’t come as a massive surprise to us! A lot of our patients find non-invasive forms of treatment like cold laser therapy, chiropractic adjustments and acupuncture to be a more effective way of managing chronic pain. 

9. Would you be shocked to learn that back pain is, worldwide, the single leading cause of disability?


Approximately 8 million adults in the UK report chronic pain that is moderate to severely disabling. Back pain alone accounts for 40% of sickness absence in the NHS and overall it costs £10 billion for the UK economy


10. Back pain is actually one of the most mysterious conditions! Only 10% of doctor visits tied to back pain result in a firm diagnosis.


Considering how prevalent back pain is, it’s surprising that we see so few firm diagnoses. However, as our next stat shows, we do know some of the root causes  . . .

11. A sedentary lifestyle is the cause of back pain in 54% of cases.


12. Low back pain contributes to inequality and poverty worldwide, as sufferers are less able to earn a living.

In Australia for example, the average value of accumulated wealth for those who retire early due to low back pain is AUD $5,038. In comparison, the average for those who can continue working is AUD $339,121.


13. 54% of the people with neck or back pain have had these problems for at least 5 years.


14. 63% of people claim that a new mattress helped them relieve their backaches.


If you have a spare five minutes, we highly recommend reading the results of the study because it is fascinating. People reported both significantly less back pain after 4 weeks on a new mattress – but also a noticeable improvement in sleep quality. Sleep naturally helps the body to heal and function at its best – so this is a two-for-one special!

15. It’s estimated that 50-80% of chronic back pain sufferers experience sleep problems.


16. Roughly 20% of those experiencing acute lower back pain will end up with chronic pain. 


17. Back pain costs the average sufferer just over $2,000 per year.


The financial impact back pain has on the individual but also on the economy as a whole is devastating. 

Americans in 2016 spent an estimated $380 billion on low back and neck pain, as well as on joint and limb pain, and other musculoskeletal disorders. In total, $3.1 trillion – or $9,655 per person, about 17.9% of the US GDP – was spent on health care by a combination of individuals and public and private insurance.


18. Low back pain accounts for a third of new emergency department imaging in the US


19. 90% of lower back pain issues resolve within 6 weeks – regardless of treatment


20. Chiropractic treatments are a great option! 77% of people who receive chiropractic care describe it as “very effective” 


We’ve touched on statistics relating to chiropractic treatment more in an upcoming article of ours but here’s a sneak peek . . . 

quick stats about chiro in US and Canada

21. On the subject of effective treatments, findings published by Consumer Reports showed that chiropractic outperformed prescription medication, deep-tissue massage, yoga and meditation 


Were we surprised? Of course not!

22. 92% of chiropractors report worsening neck and back pain for their patients during the pandemic.


This ties in with statistic #7! I We’re sure it will come as no surprise, but the lockdown was not good for our backs. Fortunately, now the world has reopened, we have the chance to rebuild our healthy habits. 

If you’re struggling with back pain, make sure to book an appointment for a chiropractic adjustment with Dr. Gagnon! 

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