Chronic Back Pain in America:
Survey Results

Chronic Back Pain in America 2013 Survey Overview

Chronic back pain changes lives

The Chronic Back Pain in America 2013 adult patient survey — a non-sponsored survey developed by — was open for participation from August through October 2013. The online survey was made available to the public on, Facebook, and Twitter. Other efforts to raise awareness of the online survey included it being featured in SpineAdvisor, the eNewsletter for patients and consumers.

The survey's design enabled qualified patient participants to provide information about one or more of their chronic spinal conditions — cervical, thoracic, and/or lumbar/sacral. This comprehensive survey anonymously captured responses from 764 adult patients with chronic back pain, and served to:

  • Give patients with chronic back pain an opportunity to honestly speak out about their pain, and how it affects their lives
  • Detail patients' experiences with healthcare providers
  • Raise awareness of chronic back pain
  • Delineate the challenges these patients face in America today

Throughout this summary report, the total number of patients responding to each question is indicated (ie, n=764). The results are featured as percentages of the total number of patients responding.

Sample Results

  • 31% of 764 survey participants indicated they think they've been discriminated against because of their chronic back pain
  • 9% of patients with chronic back pain do not have health insurance
  • Depression (53%) and anxiety (45%) were the most common comorbidities associated with chronic back pain
  • 55% reported their doctor as being sincere
  • 33% of 719 survey responders indicated the doctor who prescribes their medication requires urine drug testing

Chronic Back Pain Changes Lives
Work-related actions taken by respondents (n=764) during the past 5 years is represented in the pie chart below. Here, 30% filed for disability and 29% reported going on disability because of a chronic back pain condition. Many participants took medical leave, used paid time off or sick days, or retired early.

Chronic back pain affects relationships too. Thirty-five percent of survey participants indicated they lost a friendship, 21% suffered a broken romance, 13% separated, and 9% divorced.

Activities Limited or Prevented
Another way that chronic neck or back pain changes lives is by limiting or preventing patients from participating in life. Listed below are activities survey participants indicated as those affected by  neck, mid-back, and/or low back pain. Sleeping well was the activity most impacted by chronic back pain.

Activity Cervical
Work full-time 56% 68% 58%
Work part-time 39% 49% 41%
Housekeeping 66% 77% 66%
Sexual enjoyment 43% 52% 54%
Exercise 69% 75% 73%
Sleeping well 88% 87% 82%


Updated on: 03/13/14
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Chronic Pain Demographics
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Chronic Pain Demographics

The demographic results from the Chronic Back Pain in America Survey include race, education, income, employment status, as well as how people used their vacation and sick days. If you have chronic back pain, compare these results to your personal situation.
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