The Rise and Rise of Back Pain

It’s difficult to separate out reported back pain from issues of opioid abuse, but back pain is on the rise in the U. S. and elsewhere. Here we collect statistics as we find them.

A comparison of two cross-sectional studies of adults in England conducted in the 1950s and the 1990s revealed a 2- to 4-fold increase in musculoskeletal pain. In a survey of adults living in North Carolina, the prevalence of chronic low back pain increased from 3.9% in 1992 to 10.2% in 2006. (html)

The Rising Prevalence of Chronic Low Back Pain: The prevalence of chronic, impairing LBP rose significantly over the 14 year interval, from 3.9% (95% CI:3.4–4.4) in 1992 to 10.2% (95% CI:9.3–11.0) in 2006. Increases were seen for all adult age strata, in males and females, and in white and black races. Symptom severity and general health were similar for both years. The proportion of individuals who sought care from a health care provider in the past year increased from 73.1% (95% CI:65.2–79.8) to 84.0% (95% CI:80.8–86.8), while mean number of visits to all providers were similar (19.5 vs 19.4). (html)


Back pain and obesity are related. See Obesity and Sciatica.


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