The Average Chronic Back Pain Sufferer in America

Category: Back Pain | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: February 25, 2016

back pain sufferer

A recent study published on SpineUniverse.com took a closer look at some of the demographic information of chronic back pain sufferers across America in an effort to paint a picture of the average chronic spine pain sufferer. Today, we delve into the study data, and we look at how these individuals are attempting to manage their chronic back pain.

Back Pain in the United States

Although only 606 chronic back pain sufferers (those who experience more than 3 consecutive months of back pain) took part in the survey, the results helped researchers piece together a picture of the average back pain sufferer in America. Data showed:

Demographic/Employment Information

  • 82 percent did not smoke
  • 76 percent agree that being overweight can cause or contribute to low back pain
  • 43 percent said they do not drink alcohol, while 32 percent said they seldom drink
  • 36 percent said they lost a job because of chronic back or neck pain
  • 35 percent exercise at least 3 times a week
  • 31 percent are collecting disability for their back problems and aren’t working. 23 percent work full-time, and approximately 30 percent are retired
  • 26 percent filed for disability during the past five years
  • 21 percent have gone onto disability during the past five years
  • 17 percent had to take early retirement due to chronic back pain

Causes of Back Pain

Respondents were also asked to explain what they thought caused their back pain. They were given 10 choices and could check all that applied, and the results show:

  • 38 percent believe it was due to old age
  • 29 percent said it was the result of a work injury
  • 21 percent said chronic back pain was the result of a prior surgery
  • 21 percent said chronic spine pain “runs in the family”

Treatments Sought

Here’s a look at the landscape of care for back pain sufferers:

  • The majority of physicians who prescribed pain medications for mid-back pain were pain management specialists (45 percent) and primary care physicians (36 percent). Only 4 percent of neurosurgeons prescribed pain pills, likely because they know it doesn’t treat the underlying problem.
  • Only 39 percent of patients with mid-spine pain sought a second opinion.
  • Only 11 percent underwent surgery to correct their spine problem.
  • The majority of physicians who prescribed pain medications for low back pain were pain management specialists (41 percent) and primary care physicians (38 percent). Only 5 percent of neurosurgeons prescribed pain pills for low back pain, likely because they know it doesn’t treat the underlying problem.
  • 47 percent of patients with low back pain sought a second opinion.
  • 51 percent reported having undergone low back surgery to address their pain. 42 percent visited a neurosurgeon for their surgery, and 35 percent selected an orthopedic spine surgeon.

How many of those factors describe you? Have you sought a second opinion for your pain? If not, it’s certainly worth considering, because you shouldn’t have to live with back pain.

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