A Little Friendly Advice About Death, Taxes and Back Pain

Did you know that one out of every two working adults, that’s 50 PERCENT, will suffer from back pain this year?

If you are thinking that you land in the “other 50 percent”, the half that will not have to visit the doctor consider this. 90 PERCENT of adults will need to see a doctor due to some problem with their back. And, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians, complaints of low back pain are the fifth most common reason for all visits to the doctor*. Those statistics cross ethnicity, geography, age and job function meaning you are just as likely to suffer from back pain if you are a laborer as if you are an office worker.

Now, back pain can stem from many, many, many different sources. You can get back spasms and neck pain from poor ergonomics while you slump in front of your computer eight hours a day. You can suffer acute low back pain and numbness in your legs following a car accident. You could be suffering from the cumulative affects of age and an old football injury from your teen years that was never treated correctly. And in a very small number of cases, you could be suffering from a herniated disc or something as serious as cancer.

The reality, though, is this. Those who suffer from back pain far outpace those who do not in doctor’s visits and healthcare costs.

A 2004 study done by Spine.com (and based on 1998 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey data), found that Americans who suffer from some form of back pain spent 30 percent more than those who did not suffer from back pain. Most of the costs (which included health benefits payments, as well as out of pocket spending) were due to CHRONIC BACK PAIN.


Like death and taxes, it seems back pain may just be one of the few things in life you can count on. So if you are smart, you will plan for it.

One of the things you can do is take good care of your back. If you do not have a regular exercise routine that includes strengthening and lengthening, get one. At the very least, you should work with weights at least twice a week, stretch your back and legs once a day, and do your crunchies every day.

Another thing you can do is make sure you have adequate health benefits coverage. Perhaps because back pain is so pervasive or perhaps because there can be so many causes, many health benefits plans severely limit what is covered. That may mean you pay a large deductible when being treated for back pain. It may mean you have an annual limit set at $1K – $2K. Your health plan may not allow for chiropractic care. Whatever the case, make sure you check you health benefits package to see what restrictions it places on treatment for back pain.

If you find there are limits, check into Consumer Driven Health Plans. Most Consumer Driven Health Plans also offer supplemental health benefits packages designed to provide affordable coverage for those healthcare areas that the typical insurance carrier does not pay for.

But whatever you do, get prepared. Back pain will find you.

*”Diagnosis and Management of Acute Low Back Pain”. American Academy of Family Physicians. Retrieved March 12, 2007.