back pain in the population

The Stats On Back Pain & How They Affect You

If you have any of these symptoms, there is help for it.

by Sherwin Nicholson | Updated May 8, 2020

These statistics matter when it comes to your health.  They are current and unfortunately, little has improved in terms of back pain.

We have permanently entered a change in our culture (practically any country these days) where health care has become over taxed and devalued.

This is quite evident in both out workforce and leisure.  We sit all day, drive everywhere and exercise very little regardless of sex, age and financial ability. As we get older, these habits become worse and it becomes even harder for us to recover from pain when we do have it.

Almost all of us are affected

We all experience multiple episodes of back problems. The statistics are out there and the impact that it has on us personally is pretty high.

Currently, 95% of the general population suffers from a severe episode of lower back pain at least once in their lifetime.  When it happens, it’s likely to involve a tear, sprain, intense spasm or even a disc herniation.

Almost all of us are affected again and again

In addition to this very high percentage, almost 85% of the same population will have many recurring episodes.  Most often, it is likely from a combination of the various forms of pain mentioned.

Some of us can’t find a way to relieve the pain

For the 85%, about one-third to a half will have these episodes on a recurring basis without resolution.  This group may also continue to use the same basic methods of treatment as mentioned before.

Again, because the same treatment methods such as rest and medication are deemed sufficient for management, there is also little chance to alter treatment or at least to widen the options for a long term solution.

As the problem progresses

For about 5-10% of the population with pain recurrence, their symptoms have begun to have a long term effect on their well-being and productivity.   Pain management has gone beyond the basic treatment methods and has required some degree of intervention with a medical professional.

The toll on healthcare

The current statistics from the United States suggest that back problems are one of the most common reasons to visit your family doctor and for hospital room visits.  That is a pretty time consuming and heavy use of medical resources that could be better used.  The numbers are growing with well over 5 million visits per year.

The cost to the US alone is staggering

Over $100 billion dollars are spent in the US alone for treatment.  Lumbar discomfort alone makes up approximately two-thirds of this cost.

Did you know that your lumbar spine is the most used yet neglected region of your body?  The lowest and most vulnerable disc (the L5-S1) of your spine, is also the most common to wear out from overuse and aging.

Virtually every activity that you are doing today (even sleeping) exerts pressure on your lumbar discs, spine, and surrounding tissue.  Even though we have a very supportive system of muscle groups to protect and stabilize the lumbar region, lifestyle choices are usually what affect their protective ability.

Since we use this region so much, it’s a wonder how well it endures our abuse.  Remember your spine doesn’t always warn you that you may be causing injury.

Your spine tolerant of injury and usually lets you know right afterwards.  In the form of pain.

This is how we usually try to deal with back pain at first

It is a very typical scenario for almost all of us.  We begin to suffer in the morning. Symptoms of tightness, stiffness and sometimes either a dull or sharp sensation. Sometimes, the symptoms occasionally happen or at the very worst cause pain every night.  What helps a lot is to massage where it hurts for some relief.

We usually begin by using self-massage, medication, a heat pack or an ointment to apply topically to soothe our symptoms. When we can move out of bed, our next step to improving the situation is to jump in the shower to further relieve the discomfort with more heat.

A shower certainly helps as warm water encourages more circulation and relaxation of very tight muscles. Tension is released to allow more freedom of movement allowing less pressure on joints and discs.

These symptoms may not seem to be very serious at this point. Or are they?

At this point in our day, we are not that concerned because we believe that we are healthy for the most part.  We then assume that the discomfort is manageable by traditional means such as with an occasional stretch, rest time and some medication.

In fact, it is common to simply continue on despite any aches and pains hoping that these symptoms will fade later in the day.

When symptoms increase, so does the problem

As people begin to experience more frequent episodes of pain, our approach changes very little.  Instead of looking at our symptoms as warning signs, it is more likely that we will accept the increase in symptoms as a natural part of both our ever changing activity levels and to aging.

The current treatment methods that we use as before mentioned remain the same.  Because symptoms are still manageable, there is little cause for concern.

For more help:

Find out when you should see a specialist

What exercises you can do at home now to help you

More facts about your pain


  1. Back Pain – The Facts – John Lee, Clare Daniel, Suzanne Brook. NY. Oxford University Press – 2009. 617.564Lee

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