Just How Common Is Back Pain?

We’re often asked at Virginia Spine Institute how common back pain is — especially as patients are scared and feel alone and isolated in their back pain. There are two ways to answer this question:

  1. You’re never alone – we have seen it all and are there to care for any spinal condition you have!
  2. Back pain is extremely common and is actually the single leading cause of disability worldwide.

Due to its global ramifications, there has been a lot of research to answer this question.

  • Back pain is the most common physical complaint of adults
  • Back pain is one of the most common reasons for missed work
  • It is the number one leading cause of emergency room department visits and inpatient stays
    • Over 7 million emergency room visits
    • Over 2 million hospital inpatient stays
  • An individual that is 30+ years is at the highest risk for experiencing back pain
    • Incidence increases until approximately 60 years old
  • 40% of patients develop recurrent symptoms of back pain within 6 months of onset

Luckily, most of these instances can be easily treated with rest and possibly over-the-counter medication. Most of us can return to full activities once the episode resolves. In some instances, however, a specialist is needed. If your back pain continues, or the pain is severe, you should schedule an initial consultation with a spinal specialist.


There’s no perfect solution to avoid back pain, especially as it can sometimes be genetic. The best way to limit your risk of back pain is by maintaining a healthy lifestyle and learning proper form for daily activities. Staying active and exercising is important for your overall health, strength, and balance which ultimately helps to improve our core and protect our spine. Similarly, a healthy diet and weight helps to limit added stress on the joints and discs which limits your risk for back pain as you age. Begin a healthy lifestyle when you are young and continue this lifestyle throughout your life so you can reap the rewards!

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