What is the prevalence of mechanical low back pain cases in the US?

Updated: Mar 06, 2018
  • Author: Everett C Hills, MD, MS; Chief Editor: Stephen Kishner, MD, MHA  more...
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Answer

The lifetime prevalence of mechanical low back pain (LBP) in the United States is 60-80%. The prevalence of serious mechanical LBP (persisting >2 wk) is 14%. The prevalence of true sciatica (pain radiating down one or both legs) is approximately 2%.

Of all cases of mechanical LBP, 70% are due to lumbar strain or sprain, 10% are due to age-related degenerative changes in disks and facets, 4% are due to herniated disks, 4% are due to osteoporotic compression fractures, and 3% are due to spinal stenosis. All other causes account for less than 1% of cases.

Mechanical LBP is the most common cause of work-related disability in persons younger than 45 years in the United States.


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