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Health Agencies Update
January 28, 2004

Back Pain Is a Money Drain

JAMA. 2004;291(4):415. doi:10.1001/jama.291.4.415-e

According to an analysis of data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the National Center for Health Statistics, patients with back pain consume more than $90 million annually in health care expenses.

The analysis of the government data from 1998 was performed by researchers at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, NC, and was published in the January 1 issue of the journal Spine. The authors state that their results highlight the prevalence of back pain in the United States—25.9 million individuals reported back pain in 1998—and its impact on the health care system. They report that on average, health care expenditures were 60% higher for individuals with back pain than for those without it. Costs associated with back pain varied widely, depending on patients' clinical, socioeconomic, and demographic backgrounds.

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