How common is back pain?

Ronald B. Tolchin, DO
Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
Back pain is the second most common cause of a visit to the doctor, after the common cold. Knowing the facts about physical therapy, and proper posture and exercises, is crucial to overcoming chronic back conditions. These statistics about back pain are striking:
  • About 80% of adults will experience an episode of low back pain.
  • More than half of Americans live with chronic or recurrent pain.
  • Back pain is one of the leading causes of chronic or recurrent pain.
  • About 4 in 10 Americans report that back pain interferes with their mood, activities, sleep, ability to do work or enjoyment of life.
Regular stretching, strengthening and aerobic exercises can help reduce chronic or temporary back pain for many people. But over-straining the back from too much or improper exercise can do more harm than good. Physical therapy, ordered by your doctor, can get you on the right path to back pain relief.
Maoshing Ni, PhD, LAc
Geriatric Medicine
When it comes to back pain, your lower back is an especially vulnerable area as it's prone to injury, particularly as we age. The wear and tear of living eventually weakens the skeletal structure, causing bone loss and disintegrated or displaced discs. And you’re not alone: eight out of 10 Americans experience back pain at some time, making it the fifth most common reason to visit the doctor.

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If you've ever experienced back pain—which can consist of anything from a twinge in the neck to aches or pains anywhere along the spine, on down to the hips, butt, and legs—you're in good company. It's the second most common neurological health complaint, right behind headaches. Nearly everyone experiences some degree of back pain at one point or another, and it's one of the top causes of disability and missed work.
Gerald M. Silverman
Chiropractic Medicine
An estimated 80 percent of the population will suffer at least one episode of acute back pain at some point in life. At any given time, 20 percent of the population and half of working age adults suffer lower back pain. Neck and back pain are the second leading cause of medical office visits and the leading cause of lost work time in the United States. At these levels, it runs in just about everyone's family. Neck and back pain are epidemic in our society, and nothing is being done to change that. If you are over 40, it is unlikely for you not to have experienced -- or know someone who has experienced -- significant lower back or neck pain.
Your Miraculous Back: A Step-By-Step Guide to Relieving Neck & Back Pain

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Your Miraculous Back: A Step-By-Step Guide to Relieving Neck & Back Pain

Many of us complain about our 'bad back,' but this book argues that our backs are, without exception, amazing examples of bioengineering, capable of dramatic feats of strength, flexibility, and...
Unfortunately, back pain is very common. Approximately 80% to 90% of the population will suffer from spinal pain at some point in their lives. People who are overweight or obese, and who smoke, lift heavy objects, or have had a previous episode of back pain, are more likely to experience back pain.

Today, back pain is also increasing common among children and adolescents. This is likely due to a number of factors, such as heavy backpacks, reduced physical activity, too much time spent at the computer or watching TV, and the growing incidence of obesity in the young. 

Back pain is very common. The majority of people experience back pain at some point in their life. Back pain is also the second most common reason for visiting a doctor.

Continue Learning about Back Pain

Back Pain

Back Pain

Just about everyone has experienced some level of back pain. It is one of the most common ailments brought on by disease, injury, or misalignment of the spine. It can be a dull muscle ache in the lower back or a severe, sharp pain ...

in that affects your ability to bend over or stand up straight. Most often back pain results from strained muscles and ligaments that surround the spine, but it can also be caused by structural problems with the bones of the spine. There are treatment options for back pain, and understanding the causes and symptoms is key to preventing it in the first place.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.