Chronic Back and Neck Pain in America—Snapshot of Survey Results
Earlier in 2015, SpineUniverse published its second Chronic Back Pain in America's survey for anyone in the United States, who self-reported having back or neck pain for at least three months. Whether you participated in the survey or not you may find the results quite interesting. In fact, if you have back and/or neck pain, some of the results may be familiar to you because people with chronic spine-related pain have much in common!
Composite of survey responders
To start with, 606 adults from 48 states completed the survey. The majority of responders were women (66%, n=402); 204 men participated in the survey or 34% of the total. Nearly 91% selected Caucasian as their race. Roughly half indicated they live in a suburban setting (47%) and 29% in cities and 23% in rural areas. The age groups in Table 1 (below) combine all men and women who completed the survey.
- 82% (n-497) do not smoke
- 76% (n=459) know being overweight can cause or contribute to low back pain
- 43% (n=260) do not drink alcohol and 32% (n=195) seldom drink.
- 35% (n=210) exercise 3 times per week
Chronic back pain and work
The fact that chronic back pain is a leading cause of disability was reflected in answers provided to specific questions.
- 31% (n=190) indicated they are collecting disability for their back problem and no longer working.
- 21% (n=129) have gone onto disability during the past 5 years.
- 26% (n=160) filed for disability during the past 5 years.
The results showed 23% (n=123) work full-time, and approximately 30% (n=179) are retired. Sadly, 17% (n=103) had to take early retirement during the previous 5 year time period.
Many people work despite their chronic back pain. An amazing 52% (n=107) of 206 survey takers indicated they worked more than 15 days during the last 12 months in productivity-sapping back or neck pain. Furthermore, about 40% (n=243) used all their vacation days because their sick days were exhausted and/or took a medical leave of absence—again, because of chronic back/neck pain. Of everyone surveyed (n=606), 36% (n=216) lost a job because of chronic back or neck pain.
Causes of chronic back or neck pain
Participants were asked to tell SpineUniverse what they thought caused their chronic spine pain. They were allowed to make multiple choices from more than 10 potential causes. Out of 654 responses, the potential causes of back pain broke out as shown below in Table 2.
Coexisting medical conditions
SpineUniverse was interested to know if people taking the survey had other medical or mental health-related conditions besides chronic back or neck pain. It was not surprising to see that depression, anxiety and high blood pressure ranked highest. It is well-known that up to 50% of individuals with chronic pain have depression1 and experiencing pain can cause elevated blood pressure.
Table 3 (below) shows the different and most common coexisting medical and mental health-related conditions among all 606 respondents.
Who patients consulted with for a diagnosis
This multiple-choice question received a total of 2,457 responses, which demonstrates that people with spine-related back or neck pain often consult with more than one doctor, health care provider or practitioner. The results also point to the fact that chronic back and neck pain can be complex and challenging to treat—and patients appear to be willing to go to great extents to find an accurate diagnosis.
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