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Who Is Affected by Low Back Pain

Topic Overview

Back pain is very common in adults. Most adults have low back pain at some point in their lives.

  • Low back pain is age-related. It generally begins to affect people in their 30s to 50s.
  • Low back pain is a common cause of work-related limited activity in people younger than 45.1 (It can also cause disability in people older than 45.)
  • Low back pain is not common before adolescence, although spinal injuries can occur.
  • Low back pain may be more common in men and in people who:
    • Smoke.
    • Frequently lift heavy objects or children.
    • Are in poor physical condition.
  • Low back pain may be more likely in people who:2

Being involved in workers' compensation issues or lawsuits can delay recovery from low back pain.

Fortunately, 90% of people with low back pain recover within 6 weeks, and up to 95% recover within 12 weeks. Over 98% recover within 1 year.3

Related Information



  1. Deyo RA, Weinstein JN (2001). Low back pain. New England Journal of Medicine, 344(5): 363–370.

  2. Wise C (2005). Back pain and common musculoskeletal problems. In DC Dale, DD Federman, eds., Scientific American Medicine, section 15, chap. 12. New York: WebMD.

  3. Carragee EJ, Hannibal M (2004). Diagnostic evaluation of low back pain. Orthopedic Clinics of North America, 35(2004): 7–16.


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerWilliam M. Green, MD - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerRobert B. Keller, MD - Orthopedics
Last RevisedFebruary 4, 2010

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