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Statistics on Back Pain in the U.S.: Goodpath Employer Health Index

Written by Goodpath Medical Team

While everyone's back pain is a little different, Goodpath found trends among people who experience back pain across the country. For our latest Goodpath Employer Health Insight, we analyzed 1,656 Goodpath assessments for back pain to better explain what problems this group faces.

Defining back pain

It's complicated

Back pain comes in many forms, from a muscle ache to a pinched nerve. Sometimes it's made worse with certain movements, like bending or walking. There are also various causes for back pain, the most common being:

  • Strains and sprains 

  • Accidents, injuries, or incorrect movements

  • Osteoarthritis

It's common

8 out of 10 people will experience back pain in their lifetime, and it is the second most common cause of disability among adults in the U.S. 

It interferes with life

Goodpath's data shows 8 out of 10 people who completed the back pain assessment reported severe pain (at least 7 out of 10 on a pain scale). Work life is inevitably affected - in one year, studies of U.S. workers found 149 million lost work days due to back pain.

Back pain statistics: Where does back pain care fall short?

Goodpath’s proprietary data from 1,656 adults across the U.S. highlights the gap in care for people with back pain.

Most people aren't seeking help

In Goodpath’s sample, at least 2 out of 3 people have not discussed their back pain with their doctor. Instead, they try over-the-counter products or simply live with the pain.

If they do seek help, it may not go far enough

In our sample, more than 8 out of 10 respondents have tried at least one treatment for back pain (such as physical therapy or over-the-counter medicine). Yet when asked about symptom improvement, 1  out of 2 people said their back pain remained the same.

A better solution

"Our healthcare team with diverse medical backgrounds provide complete care while tailoring programs to the individual’s needs." Dr. Stephanie Gianoukos, Goodpath pain expert

Sometimes conventional care isn't enough for people living with back pain. That's where Goodpath comes in - we make integrative care simple.

Integrative healthcare is a whole person-based approach to health

It focuses on the many factors that contribute to back pain. Compared to conventional methods alone, integrative care helps treat back pain faster and more effectively. We bring together the best of conventional Western practices (like over-the-counter medicines and physical therapy) and complementary treatments (like supplements and yoga) in a coordinated way.

Integrative care is backed by science

Medical studies confirm that the integrative approach shows tangible results:

  • Integrative care improves back pain severity by around 50%. (Rogerson MD et al. Pain Pract 2010)

  • People with back pain who received integrative care that included physical therapy had 50% improved pain severity within 3 months. (Rogerson MD et al. Pain Pract 2010)

  • Integrative care improves low back pain 4x faster than usual treatment. (Rogerson MD et al. Pain Pract 2010)

  • Seven out of ten people see an improvement in their back pain with an integrative approach. (Schulz PJ et al. Intl Journal of Public Health 2007)

Goodpath programs deliver results

After taking our back pain assessment, Goodpath members receive a customized program and ongoing coach-support for lasting results. After 3 months of integrative care, 4 out of 5 people had less pain (change of 4 points on a 10-point scale) (Bailey JF et al. J Med Internet Res 2020).

Dr. Gianoukos, one of Goodpath's pain experts, has treated 1000s of back pain patients. Even before she joined Goodpath, she consistently saw that an integrative approach works better. Every day, she sees the improvements in action:

"There is never one solution," she explained. "We need to address pain from multiple angles - with this approach, patients are more likely to feel better.

"For example, a patient with chronic low back pain will rarely feel better by taking an OTC medicine.  In my practice, when I prescribe medicine along with PT-guided exercises, relaxation techniques, and dietary changes, patients get faster relief.

"I spend a significant amount of time explaining that there is no magic bullet, pill, or procedure to take away their pain. Instead, integrating many treatments leads to better results."

Back pain can be tricky to manage, but you don't have to do it alone. Take the first step by completing our free assessment.

Our programs can be offered as an ancillary benefit in your company. Implementation takes less than two weeks, from first introductions to the enrollment webinar. Learn more at