Burden of Back Pain


Lead Author(s): 

Gunnar Andersson, MD, PhD

Supporting Author(s): 

Sylvia I. Watkins-Castillo, PhD

As mentioned, back pain was the most common reason for health care visits among musculoskeletal disorders in 2010. When combining low back and neck pain, they accounted for 5.1% of health care visits in 2010, or 1 in 20. The majority of visits (more than 77%) were physician office visits. The number of physician office visits for back pain continues to increase. In 1998 there were 32 million visits, in 2004 nearly 45 million, and in 2010 more than 50 million. Physician office visits for back pain not only show a rapid increase, but also continue to include a larger share of the population. In 1998, 11.8 in 100 persons visited a physician because of back pain. In 2004, this had increased to 15.1 persons in 100. Although a slight decrease was seen through 2008, by 2010 the ratio had increased to 16.4 in 100. (Reference Table 2.8 PDF CSV)

Overall, lumbar pain accounted for 1 in 25 (4.1%) health care resource visits in 2010. The staggering impact of low back pain on both the health care resources in the United States and the disability inflicted on these individuals is disconcerting and has risen slightly since 2004.


  • 2014

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