The Winning Combo...The Mind-Body Con...

A leading cause of work limitations

Back problems rank among the most common complaints patients share with their doctors. Recent data reveals that approximately 65 million Americans have reported experiencing back pain at some point. Among them, about 16 million adults, accounting for 8 percent of all adults, suffer from ongoing or chronic back pain, which significantly hampers their ability to engage in daily activities.

It's noteworthy that back pain is ranked as the sixth most financially burdensome condition in the United States. The collective costs of healthcare services and indirect expenses associated with back pain amount to over $12 billion annually. As a consequence, adults with back pain tend to utilize healthcare services more frequently than those without such conditions.

Moreover, the indirect costs linked to back pain often stem from missed workdays and disability payments, further adding to the economic impact. In this context, we refer to individuals who endure persistent or chronic back pain, restricting their everyday activities, as "adults with back pain.”


Back pain is a leading cause of work-loss days

Back pain accounts for a staggering 83 million lost workdays annually. This condition stands out as a primary cause of both work-loss days and work limitations. 

Of the working adult population, approximately 64 percent of individuals with back pain have experienced at least one day of work absence in the past year due to illness or injury, whereas only 45 percent of those without back pain have faced a similar situation. Additionally, workers with back pain are much more likely to miss multiple days of work compared to their counterparts without back pain.

It is crucial to recognize that back pain can extend its impact beyond the workplace. Adults dealing with back pain spend nearly 200 million days confined to bed each year. This further highlights the severity of the issue and the substantial toll it takes on individuals' daily lives.


Back pain affects adults of all ages and incomes

Overall, the traits of adults with back pain closely resemble those of the general adult population. Nonetheless, a few distinctions between the two groups emerge concerning age and income. Specifically, around 41 percent of adults experiencing back pain fall within the age range of 18 to 44 years, whereas this age bracket constitutes 54 percent of the entire adult population. Moreover, slightly over one-quarter, equivalent to 26 percent, of adults with back pain have an annual income of less than USD 20,000, in contrast to one-fifth of all adults who fall into this income category. These variations underscore the importance of considering age and income demographics when studying and addressing back pain prevalence among adults.


One in four adults with back pain is in fair to poor physical health

Adults with any form of back pain exhibit significantly higher proportions of fair to poor mental and physical health compared to those without such conditions. For instance, the percentage of adults with back pain reporting fair to poor physical health stands at 25 percent, which is more than twice the rate observed among individuals without back pain, which is 11 percent. This disparity emphasizes the substantial impact of back pain on both mental and physical well-being, highlighting the importance of addressing and managing this prevalent health issue.


Downhearted feelings are common among adults with back pain

Substantially larger proportions of adults with back pain, compared to those without back pain, report feeling sad, worthless, or hopeless. Almost three-quarters — 72 percent — of those with back pain report that such feelings have interfered with their life, compared to 61 percent of those without back pain. 

People with chronic back pain report significant levels of psychological distress, including feelings of anger and depression, while people who have suffered an acute episode of back pain are less likely to report these feelings


Use of certain health care services is greater for adults with back pain

Adults with any type of back pain use substantially more health care services than those without back pain. Some 83 percent of adults with any back pain, compared to 66 percent of adults without any back pain, have seen a physician at least once in the past year. The median number of annual visits to a physician by those with back pain is almost twice that of those without back pain. Compared to adults without back pain, larger proportions of adults with any back pain also see non-physicians, including physical and occupational therapists.

Similarly, a larger proportion of adults with any type of back pain takes prescription medications, and they fill more prescriptions on annual basis than those without back pain.


Health care expenditures are high for adults with back pain

Health care expenditures for adults with back pain are, on average, almost 2.5 times those for adults without back pain


Adults with back pain are less active

Back pain may limit social activities. The proportion of adults with back pain reporting any limitations related to social, recreational, or family activities is more than three times the proportion of adults without any such pain


Older adults with back pain are less satisfied with their retirement

Back pain may also have an effect on how long people work. For example, among adults age 51 and older who are completely retired, one-third of those with back pain, compared to less than one-fifth of those without back pain, report that poor health was very important in their retirement decision. Among retirees, those with back pain are less satisfied with their retirement.


Smaller proportions of adults with back pain are working

Some 60 percent of adults with back pain are working, compared to 74 percent of adults without back pain. This pattern holds true across all age groups, but the difference is greatest for adults ages 45 to 64.


Back pain is a leading cause of work limitations

Among the group of adults who have difficulties at work caused by back pain, annual earnings — USD18,480 — are substantially less than those of adults who do not experience any difficulties at work — USD 24,480. Differences are greatest among younger workers. Those who experience work limitations due to back pain earn two-thirds of the amount earned by workers who do not experience back pain.

Leave a comment

Comments require approval.