One in six U.S. adults suffered from back pain every single day during the past month

Approximately one in six U.S. adults (16%) suffered from back pain every single day during the past month, according to a recent national survey.

The North American Spine Society (NASS), the nation's leading nonprofit multidisciplinary medical society dedicated to advancing spine care, commissioned Harris Interactive to learn more about Americans' struggle with back pain and how it affects their daily lives. The survey of 1,014 U.S. adults revealed some vivid findings including the fact that people suffering from back pain are dealing with the issue an average of 14 days per month and often don't seek the advice of trained professionals to treat or improve their condition. According to NASS, a startling 80 percent of adults will suffer from back pain at some point during their lives.

"We were certainly not surprised by the number of people suffering from back pain in fact, our member physicians are helping thousands of patients manage and alleviate back pain and spine conditions every day," said Thomas Errico, MD, President of the North American Spine Society. "Since back pain remains a major medical complaint for many, we believe it's vital to encourage people to see a spine specialist to get the proper treatment so they can improve the quality of their lives."

Some other key finding from the recent North American Spine Society Back Pain in America survey included:

  • Back pain negatively impacts American lives with nearly a third (31 percent) of U.S. adults who have experienced back pain in the past month having difficulty lying in bed and more than one in five adults (22 percent) finding it uncomfortable to drive their cars. Another 18 percent have a decreased sexual activity due to their back pain.

  • More than one fourth of back pain sufferers (26 percent) claim that they are no longer able to engage in vigorous physical exercise. Almost a third of U.S. adults (32 percent) say they are unable to lift heavy objects due to back pain.

  • When asked what initially caused their back pain, more than one in four adults (26 percent) attributed aging or getting older as the main cause. According to NASS, degenerative conditions are the leading cause of back pain.

  • Sixteen percent of U.S. adults began suffering with back pain after a workplace-related injury and another 14 percent injured their backs from a sports or exercise-related incident. Only nine percent of those surveyed blamed an automobile accident as the cause of their initial back pain.

  • More women (64 percent) than men (50 percent) have experienced back pain in the past month. More than a third of women (34 percent) say that their back pain has not changed their lives, while 45 percent of men say the same. In addition, women are more likely than men to no longer be able to lift heavy objects (38 and 23 percent respectively) or engage in vigorous physical exercise (30 and 20 percent respectively) due to their back pain.

  • More men (25 percent) than women (9 percent) state a workplace injury as the cause of their initial back pain. Nearly one out of five U.S. adults with back pain (17 percent), say that they have missed work or can no longer work at all.

  • When adults experience back pain, they most commonly use self-help methods like resting and lying down (55 percent), which actually can be counterproductive. Others try to alleviate pain by taking an over-the-counter medication (52 percent) or using a heating pad (38 percent). A much smaller number of back pain sufferers go to a trained medical professional to get treated such as visiting their primary care doctor (23 percent), spine specialist (10 percent) or chiropractor (20 percent).

  • Age plays a big role in how people handle their back pain. Seniors (age 65+) who suffer from back pain were more likely to visit a spine specialist when experiencing back pain (19 percent). Young adults (ages 18-24) are more likely than any other group who has experienced back pain in the past month to believe that there was no cause for their initial back pain (27%).

  • Southerners are the least likely regional group in the country to suffer from back pain with nearly half (49 percent) not experiencing any back pain in the past month. However, of those people in the South who have back pain, nearly a third (30 percent) will take a prescription pain medication more than any other regional group.

"This survey unearthed some startling statistics on how people are suffering with back pain today," continued Dr. Errico. "With 76 million aging baby boomers living in the United States, back pain will continue to be a major health concern. It is our goal to continue educating back pain sufferers so they can recognize their symptoms and seek out proper treatment and care."

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