Truven Health Analytics-NPR Health Poll Finds Prescription Painkillers Most Common Treatment for Patients Seeking Care for Back Pain
More than half of Americans suffer from back pain, and for those who seek treatment, doctors turn most often to prescription drugs
- Back Pain Plagues Americans: Fifty one percent of Americans said they have suffered from back pain in the last 12 months, and 46 percent of those who experienced pain said they are still in discomfort. More than half (58 percent) of back pain sufferers sought care, with 70 percent visiting a medical doctor and 14 percent visiting a chiropractor.
- Prescription Pain Killers are the Most Common Treatment: Of the 70 percent of back pain sufferers who sought care from a medical doctor, 40 percent were prescribed prescription pain killers, a rate that tended to decrease with increasing age of the patient. Other treatments prescribed were exercise/physical therapy (31 percent), injections (20 percent), massage (17 percent), steroids (17 percent), over-the-counter painkillers (13 percent), surgery (12 percent), or some other form of treatment (37 percent).
- Nearly a Third Remain in Pain, Even with Treatment: Among all respondents, 25 percent said their back pain stayed the same and five percent said their pain got worse. Forty-five percent said their pain improved, and 25 percent said it went away completely.
“Experiencing back pain is very common among Americans, and there are a number of factors that can contribute to it, some of which are treatable without prescription pain killers, ” said Anil Jain, MD, Vice-President and Chief Health Informatics Officer, Value-Based Care, IBM Watson Health. “These data show that when the patients do seek care, they are often prescribed pain-killers. Compounding this challenge, back pain sufferers who are prescribed opioids for pain may be particularly at risk for dependency and addiction. Curbing inappropriate opioid prescriptions for chronic pain is a focus of efforts by providers to combat the current opioid epidemic.” To date, the Truven Health Analytics-NPR Health Poll has explored numerous health topics, including generic drugs, vaccines, data privacy, narcotic painkillers, and sports-related concussions. NPR archives reports on the surveys online at the Shots health blog here. Truven Health maintains a library of poll results here. The Truven Health Analytics-NPR Health Poll is powered by the Truven Health PULSE® survey, an independently funded, nationally representative, multimodal poll that collects information about health-related behaviors and attitudes and healthcare use from 80, 000 U.S. households annually. The results depicted from the 2017 survey represent responses from 3, 002 survey participants interviewed from March 1 – 16, 2017. The margin of error is +/- 1.8 percentage points.About NPR
NPR is an award-winning, multimedia news organization and an influential force in American life. In collaboration with more than 900 independent public radio stations nationwide, NPR strives to create a more informed public—one challenged and invigorated by a deeper understanding and appreciation of events, ideas and cultures.
Truven Health Analytics®, part of the IBM Watson Health™ business, provides market-leading performance improvement solutions built on data integrity, advanced analytics and domain expertise. For more than 40 years, our insights and solutions have been providing hospitals and clinicians, employers and health plans, state and federal government agencies, life sciences companies and policymakers, the facts they need to make confident decisions that directly affect the health and well-being of people and organizations in the US and around the world. The company was acquired by IBM in 2016 to help form a new business, Watson Health. Watson Health aspires to improve lives and give hope by delivering innovation to address the world’s most pressing health challenges through data and cognitive insights.
Truven Health Analytics owns some of the most trusted brands in healthcare, such as MarketScan®, 100 Top Hospitals®, Advantage Suite®, Micromedex®, Simpler® and ActionOI®. Truven Health has its principal offices in Ann Arbor, MI, Chicago, IL and Denver, CO.
Bringing awareness to the community opioid epidemic,
Dr. Phil Kotzan, DC