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TMS Lower Back Pain Statistics?

Discussion in 'Mindbody Blogs (was Practitioner's Corner)' started by BruceMC, May 1, 2012.

  1. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    Does anyone out there have any idea about the rates of lower lumbar pain and sciatica in the USA and whether they're going up or down? Are there any hard statistics about the different rates between the developed world (USA, Europe, Japan) and the undeveloped countries and primitive aboriginal societies? I know that Dr. Sarno believes that lower back pain as a phenomenon began to replace ulcers as a stress-related symptom some thirty years ago in the US. But what is the actual rate of increase in the number of cases being treated? And what about CTS (Carpal Tunnel Syndrome)? I know that between say 1985 and 1995 it increased dramatically. I think about 400%. It seems to have peaked lately, but does anyone have any hard data on that subject?

    Bomber and fighter pilots returning from WWII had high rates of lower back pain. And this I imagine this holds true for Vietnam and Iraq combat vets as well. Any statistics from the VA?

    I realize that information on lower lumbar pain is so subjective and anecdotal that it's extremely difficult to collect and analyze hard data on the syndrome, but someone must have some kind of statistics about increasing/decreasing trends and age brackets.
  2. Forest

    Forest Forum Administrator

    These are some great questions. The CDC does a yearly report on Health in the United States. It looks like there last report was in 2010 and can be found at http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hus/hus10.pdf . There were a couple things in it that were interesting. On page 16 the report states that, Between 2002 and 2009, the prevalence of joint pain among adults was unchanged. Of course this doesn't show trends over the last 20 years, but I imagine that lumbar and sciatica pain have increased over past 20 years. Interestingly, overall back and knee procedures have increased, quite dramatically, from 1995 to 2007. This isn't the best statistic to measure the reports of chronic pain, but I do think it is indicative of the increase in treatment of these cases.

    I would probably expect the cases of CTS to be actually decreasing, because I think more and more people are realizing that it is somewhat bogus. I have no data on this, but it is just a hunch. The CDC reports are pretty in depth. If you are interested in it, I would suggest searching for "Health United States" and the year. They cover a wide range of issues and they do a great job at tracking all sorts of health statistics.

    As for the developed vs. developing country rates of chronic pain I would say it would be really hard to tell. On one hand, since developed nations have better health care individuals are more likely to have heard of the current en vogue symptom. I think the research about the lack of whiplash injuries in Lithuania because they do not have car insurance there is a great example. The more developed and advanced health care systems people have access to, the more likely these symptoms develop.

    Of course, that does not mean that people in developing countries do not have chronic pain and TMS. It may just be there is not data for these individuals, especially with regards to chronic pain. For instance, if you live a day's walk away from the nearest clinic you probably won't try to have your back pain checked out by a physician when they are there once a month.
  3. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    Another imponderable variable you have to factor in, of course, Forest, is that most cases of lower back pain and sciatica simply resolve themselves and therefore never make it into the medical record books. But where does that statistic that Dr. Sarno cites that 80% of adults suffer from lower lumbar pain at some point in their lives? I think at the beginning of Howard Schubiner's book there is a similar statistic. What about the statistics that are bandied about regarding lower back pain as being the second ranking reason (behind the common cold) for lost work time in the USA? I don't doubt it. Everywhere you work there is always one person or another calling in "sick" due to an aching back. People at work always seem to know who they are and are giving them some kind of moral support, saying "Oh, I feel sorry for X and his/her bad back". I'm not a strong proponent of secondary gain theory, but that attitude among the workforce has to sanction the condition, no doubt, and lead to its wide-spread acceptance as a "disease" with physical causes.

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