What is the prevalence of low back pain (LBP)?

Updated: Aug 22, 2018
  • Author: Jasvinder Chawla, MD, MBA; Chief Editor: Stephen A Berman, MD, PhD, MBA  more...
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Answer

Answer

LBP is the most expensive, benign condition in industrialized countries. [7] Experts have estimated that approximately 80% of Americans will experience LBP during their lifetimes. [7, 27, 28] The annual prevalence of LBP is 15-45% with a point prevalence of approximately 30%. [2] Sixty percent of those who suffer from acute LBP recover in 6 weeks and up to 80-90% recover within 12 weeks; however, the recovery of the remaining patients with LBP is less certain. [2]

About 2% of American workers suffer compensable back injuries each year—a staggering 500,000 cases. LBP accounts for 19% of all workers' compensation claims in the United States. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, metal workers generate 76% of all claims of back strain and/or sprains. Jobs that require heavy manual labor and material-handling activities account for more than half of all back pain reports. Injuries to the back are highest among truck drivers, operators of heavy equipment, and construction workers. From 1971-1981, the number of Americans disabled by LBP grew 14 times faster than the general population. The resultant disability in Western society has reached epidemic proportions, with enormous socioeconomic consequences.


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