13 Back Injury Statistics and Facts

Back injuries are some of the most common in the workplace, especially in the physical sector. More people than ever suffer, and it's costing the economy a ton.

Top 8 Back injury statistics

  1. In the US alone, there are more than 2 million back injuries annually.
  2. An estimated 80% of adults will suffer a back injury.
  3. A whopping 93% of back injuries are caused by poor posture and lifting techniques.
  4. Close to 95% of those with a back injury recover within 2 months. The remaining 5% develop chronic pain
  5. Globally, low back pain is one of the most common disabilities
  6. There are 1 million back injuries annually in the US alone
  7. In the United States, 1 in 5 back injuries are work-related
  8. Collectively, chronic back pain cost the US $225 billion annually (1)

Chapter 1: Why Back Injuries Happen Statistics

Back injuries are common among the adult population, especially workplace injuries and injuries that occur while performing lifting tasks. Labor statistics estimate that more than 1 million people suffer from chronic low back pain. Significant contributing factors are poor lifting technique and warming up incorrectly.

1. 25% of adults with back pain report poor health

When compared to physically fit members of the general population, those suffering from low back pain are 25% more likely to be in poor physical condition. This can mean that their lifting technique, walking form, and even posture are all adversely affected.

2. The vast majority of lower back injuries are caused by poor technique

this means that most people with low back pain symptoms are caused by either poor posture or incorrect technique. They are not caused by physical health conditions such as joint pain, osteoarthritis, cancer, inflammatory arthritis, or psychological distress.

3. Back Pain Affects people of all ages

Whether you are young or old, the chance of you experiencing some form of back pain is inevitable. The best way to reduce the chance of back injury is to ensure you stay fit and active and perform both strength and conditioning exercises along with aerobic endurance training. (2)

Chapter 2: Workplace Injuries Statistics

Workplace injuries are widespread, with many of them resulting in musculoskeletal disorders, lumbar disc disorders, and lower back pain. Low back pain patients are numbered in the millions globally and place the workforce under a significant amount of pressure. Let’s take a look at some of the most common reasons why people fall victim to chronic low back pain. (3)

1. 264 million days annually are lost due to some form of back pain.

A whopping 264 million total work days are lost due to back-related injury accounts. Amazing, that totals 2-full working days for every adult American.

2. One-third of hospital visits are due to a back injury

Chronic back pain makes up one-third of all visits to doctor surgeries, medical centers, and hospitals. Back pain is also o the third most comm reason for hospital visits with skin conditions and joint conditions one and two, respectively.

3. There was a sharp increase in back injuries between 1998-2000

Between 1998 and 2000, there was a shape increase in lower back injuries which resulted in lost work days. In the years 1994 to 1998, there was actually a 32% reduction in lower back injuries that resulted in lost work days.

4. Nearly 48% of people working in warehouses suffer a back injury at some point in time

This statistic is not surprising, considering that most people who work in warehouses are required to carry extremely heavy items. Sitting at a desk and then suddenly lifting heavy goods can be the cause of a back injury, particularly if poor technique is used.

5. Laborureres, nurses, nurses assistants, and warehouse staff are the most likely to suffer back pain

Laborers and nurses, in particular, work incredibly long days, and the work is heavy and can take a toll on their physical health, bending over to pick up heavy items, carrying patients, and lifting tasks all combine to place stress on the lower back. (4)

Chapter 3: Health Care Costs Statistics

Health care research shows that back injury statistics, particularly those pertaining to health care costs, have a huge global burden. Environmental factors, healthy diet, and other risk factors all have a heavy impact don’t the health care system, according to the bureau of labor statistics. (5)

1. In America, costs associated with back pain are estimated at $635 billion every year.

Public health costs associated with chronic low back pain are continuing to rise in the US, with estimates of close to $635 billion annually. These costs can include factors such as health care costs like chiropractic care, physiotherapy, massage, and other illnesses.

2. Indirect costs due to back pain cost the economy close to $100 billion every year.

Indirect damages can range from lost wages and revenue to workplace injuries and supply chain breakdown. These “knock-on” effects are not only costly to the employee and employer but also to the broader economy as a whole.

Back pain doesn’t only affect the lower back, but it also can have detrimental effects on other areas, including proper posture, particularly in older workers. Physical activities like heavy lifting tasks and everyday activities like walking, cooking, and even showering are all significantly affected.

4. Back pain is the 6th most expensive health condition in America

In the United States, back pain ranks 6th on the most expensive health condition list. The top 5 most expensive health conditions are Heart Disease, $193 Billion, Diabetes, $176 Billion, Dementia, $159 Billion, Cancer, $157 Billion, and Obesity, $147 Billion. (6)

5. $50 billion is spent annually treating back in American adults

This can include worker compensation claims, psychological distress, medical care, and other indirect costs such as paying for nursing assistants and disability. (7)

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the percentage of back injuries?

The Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that over 1 million workers fall victim each year to an injury, with 20% of those being back injuries. (8)

What is the number one cause of back injuries?

According to the Cleveland Clinic, the most common reasons back injuries occur are due to sprains and strains. Lifting technique is the major cause of sprains and occurs when people try to lift heavy objects without incorrect form and without warming up correctly. (9)

What are the statistics for back pain?

Back pain symptoms are incredibly widespread among the working population. Research has shown that a whopping 23% of the global adult population suffers from some form of chronic back pain. Moreover, those who suffer from a back pain injury have a 1-year recurrence rate of 80%. (10)

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Chronic Back Pain

https://www.bls.gov/news.release/archives/osh2_03302005.pdf

Tariq RA, George JS, Ampat G, et al. Back Safety. [Updated 2022 Oct 3]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK519066/

Wu, A., March, L., Zheng, X., Huang, J., Wang, X., Zhao, J., Blyth, F. M., Smith, E., Buchbinder, R., & Hoy, D. (2020). Global low back pain prevalence and years lived with disability from 1990 to 2017: estimates from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017. Annals of translational medicine, 8(6), 299. https://doi.org/10.21037/atm.2020.02.175

https://www.ninds.nih.gov/health-information/disorders/back-pain

https://www.ninds.nih.gov/health-information/disorders/back-pain

https://www.pennmedicine.org/updates/blogs/neuroscience-blog/2023/february/spine-pain-and-age#:~:text=According%20to%20Dr.,ages%20of%2040%20and%2060.

https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2018/back-injuries-prominent-in-work-related-musculoskeletal-disorder-cases-in-2016.htm

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/7936-lower-back-pain

Casiano VE, Sarwan G, Dydyk AM, et al. Back Pain. [Updated 2022 Sep 4]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK538173/

Contributors

Brenton Barker

Brenton Barker | Writer

Brenton is a highly qualified sports coach with over 20 years of experience working with professional athletes. With a degree in sports coaching and experience in prominent positions, including Head Advisor to the Japanese Government Sports Institute and Manager & Head Coach to Australia's Governing Sporting Body. Currently, he consults with several professional athletes and sporting organizations, sharing his expertise to help them reach their full potential.

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