Back pain is the world’s leading cause of disability, affecting people from every background across the globe. Consider these statistics:
- An estimated 80% of people in the U.S. will suffer from back pain at some point in their lives
- Back pain costs the U.S. between 100 and 200 billion dollars a year (including direct medical costs and lost wages/productivity)
- U.S. workers miss 149 million days of work annually due to back pain
Beyond these numbers, back pain is such a devastating condition because it is very challenging to diagnose and treat. You might be able to say where it hurts, but only 10% of people who present with acute or chronic back pain receive a concrete diagnosis.
This means that many people who experience back pain turn to ever-stronger pain medications and even surgery to find relief. An estimated 24% of people prescribed opioids for chronic back pain end up developing opioid use disorder.
And surgery? Estimates vary, but between 10 and 46% of patients who receive surgery for lower back pain develop failed surgery syndrome.
Acupuncture for back pain is so important, and the possibility of eliminating or reducing the opioid use and failed surgery is so great, that in 2020, Medicare announced that the program will begin covering acupuncture for back pain.
Acupuncture for pain management is an essential medical specialty to reduce the impact of back pain on patients and the healthcare system.