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Prevalence and Incidence of Neck and Back Pain in VA User Population

Sinnott PL. Prevalence and Incidence of Neck and Back Pain in VA User Population. [Cyberseminar]. 2013 Dec 3.


Neck and back pain are pervasive. Between 60 to 80 percent of the population will have back pain. Twenty to seventy percent will have neck pain that interferes with their daily activities during their lifetime. There's very poor understanding at the origins or source of pain. Back pain and neck pain are actually symptoms. They're not physiologic entities, but a complex of these symptoms that are very hard to discriminate between. There are a lot of anatomic structures that are at risk. There is also an argument that there is a mental health predisposition to having neck and back pain. Neck and back pain are highly recurrent and each recurrence is associated with increasing severity and disability. Twenty to thirty percent of the population with neck pain report a recurrence within one year. Of those with low back pain, 50 to 60 percent report recurrence in the year following their first episode. Eighty-five percent of the population with low back pain will experience at least one reoccurrence during their lifetime. The duration of the first episode is highly associated with reoccurrence and each reoccurrence is marked by increasing severity and disability. As you might expect, there's high health care utilization associated with both neck and back pain. There's evidence that both within the VA and the general population of increasing prevalence and rising costs. Dana Freeburger reports a change from '92 to 2004, a prevalence in North Carolina of 3.9 percent to 10.6 percent. We previously reported an annual increase of 4.8 percent from 2000 to 2008 in chronic low back pain, but little is known about the incidence of back pain, mostly because it's so difficult to identify a first event.

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