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Chiropractic Research Review

Occupational LBP Remains a Problem in the U.S.

Occupational low back pain (LBP) and resultant disability has become a significant source of concern for workers and employers. Recent literature suggests that the problem may be increasing.

Is occupational low back pain on the rise? A retrospective analysis of back pain utilized data mainly from two sources: a workers compensation provider (claim data examined from 1987-1995) and the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (claim data examined from 1991-1995).

A third source, reports of back pain from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, was examined over a four-year period (1992-1995).

Results indicated that annual U.S. estimates of LBP claim rates in fact decreased by 34% from 1987-1995, and that estimated LBP claim payments decreased by 58% over the same time period. The authors propose several possible factors responsible for this trend, including medical fee schedules, utilization review, managed care, and modified work schedules for early return to work. They also emphasize that the data show that occupational low back pain is still a significant problem:

* $8.8 billion was spent on LBP claims in 1995.

* The 1995 rate of filing LBP claims was 1.8 per 100 privately insured workers.

* Low back pain payments made up 23% of the total workers compensation payments in 1995 (albeit a reduction from the 1987 estimate of 36%).

image - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark


Murphy P, Volinn E. Is occupational low back pain on the rise? Spine, April 1, 1999:24(7), pp691-697.

Chiropractic Research Review

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