Back Pain - Acute vs. Chronic Pain

Back pain, unlike other diseases than is more likely to affect the elderly, affects people of all ages and occupations. Current estimates indicate that as many as 50% of all people suffer back pain at some point in their lives. Here are some of the trends and statistics.
  • Per year, about 10% of all adults' experiences symptoms of back pain (pain, stiffness, limited mobility, radiating pain down the arm or leg).

  • Back problems in 2005, was one of the top reasons for non-emergency medical visits, costing $17.6 billion from 139 million back pain related appointments.

  • Back pain is the second most common reason for a visit to a primary care doctor.

  • About 90% of all people experience back pain at least once in their lifetime.

  • The majority of cases of back pain resolve with time, with or with no medical intervention al all. In many cases lifestyle changes may be sufficient in taking care of a lot of your back problems, such as avoiding activities that exacerbate your back problem, and by changing out some of the things you use for work and sleep with more spine friendly products (such as chairs and mattresses that better support the back).

  • Study results vary among the studies that I have read in the medical literature. The results of one study, presented by Thomas B. ducker, MD, at a major medical conference in 2002, reported good to excellent results in 77% of normal weight, non-smokers who had spinal surgeries.



  • In the US, there are nearly 200,000 people living with a spinal-cord injury related disability. However most injuries that cause back pain or back injuries don't cause permanent paralysis or damage.

  • Back pain, unlike knee pain or hip pain, is more likely to affect young, active, healthy people. Most back injuries occur among people between the ages of 25-40. Young sufferers are more likely to have pain as a result of a disc related problem. Older men and women with back pain are more likely to be experiencing osteoarthritis or similar degenerative joint diseases.

  • Most cases of back pain are related to overuse and age. Far fewer cases are due to fractures of the spinal bones, or true strains and sprains of the muscles and ligaments of the back.

  • Published results from the Center for Disease Control indicate that back injuries account for one-fifth of all illnesses and injuries at work. Back injuries account for nearly one hundred million lost workdays per year. They also account for 10-14 billion in workers' compensation costs and between $20-50 billion in health-care costs and related expenditures per year.

  • The back pain industry is lucrative for the healthcare industry, and expensive for workers and businesses. Each year, US citizens spend and estimated $24 billion in healthcare costs to treat upper, middle, and lower back pain.

  • Thankfully, a small percentage of back pain episodes turn into chronic back pain (estimates are between 5-10%) of the cases that do become chronic, though, many of those become long term problems to manage and treat. 5-10% of cases are in the category of chronic back pain, and require long-term treatment or invasive interventions such as spinal surgery.