Back pain in the U.S. - Statistics & Facts

Back pain is one of the most common health complaints among adults in the United States. Such pain can be caused by strained muscles or ligaments, excess weight, poor posture, psychological problems, or every day activities. A Statista survey from 2017 found that 29 percent of U.S. adults with back problems believed stress was the cause of their pain, while 26 percent blamed weak muscles or a lack of exercise, and another 26 percent blamed physical work.

From 1997 to 2016, the percentage of adults reporting back pain remained relatively unchanged, with 28.4 percent of adults reporting such pain in 2016. Back pain is more common among older adults and among women. According to Statista, the most common techniques to relieve back pain were the use of painkillers, physical rest, and doing specific back exercises at home. In 2017, a quarter of adults with back pain reported they had taken opioids in the past year to relieve their back pain.

If at-home relief measures do not help back pain and it persists or becomes worse, many people seek professional help. As of 2017, around 58 percent of adults with back pain had sought medical treatment in the past year for their pain. A medical doctor was the most common type of professional sought, but 14 percent of those who went to a medical professional for treatment visited a chiropractor. A survey of U.S. adults found that 81 percent believed chiropractic care could help a great deal or some with neck or back pain. Nonetheless, around 37 percent of adults thought more people do not see a chiropractor because they do not believe in or trust them or think they are not real doctors.

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