Treating back pain cost Americans more than $30 billion in 2007 — up from $16 billion in 1997 (in 2007 dollars), according to the latest News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
According to the analysis, in 2007 about 27 million people, or nearly 12% of adults age 18 and older, reported having back problems. Of those, more than 19 million sought treatment.
In 2007, two-thirds of the total spent for treatment of back problems went to pay medical physicians, chiropractors and physical therapists for ambulatory care and for prescription drugs ($18 billion and $4.5 billion, respectively). This is up from $9.3 billion spent on office-based care and $1.2 billion on prescription drugs in 1997 (in 2007 dollars).
The remaining expenses were for hospital care, emergency room visits, and home health services.
Overall, the average expenditures for treatment of back problems were $1,589 per adult in 2007($1,146 for ambulatory care and $446 for prescription drugs).
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – July 2010.