Quarter of Americans battling neck, back pain for at least 5 years

NEW YORK — Orthopedists and chiropractors may be busier than ever before. One in four Americans reports suffering from neck or back pain for at least five years now, while nearly one in six (16%) have been dealing with such aches for more than a decade.

The survey of 2,000 adults revealed four of five respondents have battled neck or back pain at some point in their lives, and 70% found the spine issues inhibited their normal daily activities.

The survey, sponsored by the back pain relief company Teeter, also revealed some common causes for back and neck pain. Nearly six in 10 respondents (57%) say heavy lifting is the cause. Another 51% cite sitting too long every day, and 45% point to bending over frequently. More than four in 10 blame standing or walking too much. Poor mattresses were also a common problem, but surprisingly for less than three in 10 (28%) Americans.

Could work play a significant role too for most people? Well more than half of those surveyed (56%) thought their work environment aggravated their pain. In fact, a quarter say their office chair is the root of the problem.

One in five says all it takes is a walk up the stairs, driving their car, or other daily activities to spark significant discomfort.

Back pain sufferers manage their aches in different ways. While 56% go right to the doctor for help, another 54% head directly to the internet first. Six in ten participants typically use over-the-counter medications for relief, but 45% prefer prescription meds to. And with 40% finding traditional medicine ineffective — and half admitting they prefer to be “as natural as possible” when it comes to treatment — many pain sufferers are turning to alternatives ways to treat their problem, including yoga, massage therapy, herbal medicine, and inversion therapy.

In fact, alternative treatments seem to be the way to go. Three-quarters of participants who use such methods find them more effective than traditional medicine.

Other findings from the study:


Over the counter pain relievers                 64%

Prescribed pain relievers                           45%

Physical therapy                                        38%

Alternative healing/home remedies           37%

Chiropractic care                                       24%

Surgical solutions                                      11%


Massage                                                                   56%

Herbal medicine                                                        36%

Yoga                                                                          31%

Dietary supplements                                                 26%

Chiropractic/osteopathic medicine                            24%

Homeopathy                                                              19%

Acupuncture                                                              17%

Chinese/oriental medicine                                         17%

Electromagnetic therapy                                            14%

Naturopathy                                                               12%

Inversion therapy                                                       11%

The survey was conducted by market research firm OnePoll in March 2019.

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Ben Renner

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