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National Survey Results on Low Back Pain

There are more treatment options today for low back pain (LBP) than ever before. But are more people experiencing back problems compared to 10 years ago? Not according to a recent national survey of 31,000 adults. Reports are that the incidence of back pain is holding steady.

Researchers from the Center for Cost and Outcomes Research at the University of Washington in Seattle report on the results of the latest national health surveys. They combined information from the 2002 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) and the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NAMCS). Visits to the doctor for LBP were the main focus of the University of Washington group.

Groups were compared based on age categories of 18 to 44 years, 45 to 64 years, 65 to 74 years, and 75 years or older. Socioeconomic and education were also compared. The results of the 2002 surveys were then used to look back at the 1985 survey and note any changes since that time. Here's what they found:

  • Back pain is still the most common type of pain reported in the adult population.
  • Just slightly more than one-fourth of the group (26.4 per cent) reported low back pain in the last three months.
  • Middle-aged adults (45 to 65) and adults of all ages with lower levels of
    education reported back pain most often.
  • Women were slightly more likely to have back pain than men.
  • Ethnic groups with the highest rates of back pain included American Indians and Alaska Natives.

    All of these results were the same from previous surveys. The researchers could not determine if there was a trend in prevalence, pain severity, or work loss because the surveys didn't ask the same questions. It does appear that although LBP has stayed steady in numbers, more people are getting treatment for their LBP.

    Richard A. Deyo, MD, MPH, et al. Back Pain Prevalence and Visit Rates. Estimates From U.S. National Surveys, 2002. In Spine November 2006. Vol. 31. No. 23. Pp. 2724-2727.


    *Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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