Comprehensive review of epidemiology, scope, and impact of spinal pain

Laxmaiah Manchikanti, Vijay Singh, Sukdeb Datta, Steven P. Cohen, Joshua A. Hirsch

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

485 Scopus citations


Persistent pain interfering with daily activities is common. Chronic pain has been defined in many ways. Chronic pain syndrome is a separate entity from chronic pain. Chronic pain is defined as, "pain that persists 6 months after an injury and beyond the usual course of an acute disease or a reasonable time for a comparable injury to heal, that is associated with chronic pathologic processes that cause continuous or intermittent pain for months or years, that may continue in the presence or absence of demonstrable pathologies; may not be amenable to routine pain control methods; and healing may never occur." In contrast, chronic pain syndrome has been defined as a complex condition with physical, psychological, emotional, and social components. The prevalence of chronic pain in the adult population ranges from 2% to 40%, with a median point prevalence of 15%. Among chronic pain disorders, pain arising from various structures of the spine constitutes the majority of the problems. The lifetime prevalence of spinal pain has been reported as 54% to 80%. Studies of the prevalence of low back pain and neck pain and its impact in general have shown 23% of patients reporting Grade II to IV low back pain (high pain intensity with disability) versus 15% with neck pain. Further, age related prevalence of persistent pain appears to be much more common in the elderly associated with functional limitations and difficulty in performing daily life activities. Chronic persistent low back and neck pain is seen in 25% to 60% of patients, one-year or longer after the initial episode. Spinal pain is associated with significant economic, societal, and health impact. Estimates and patterns of productivity losses and direct health care expenditures among individuals with back and neck pain in the United States continue to escalate. Recent studies have shown significant increases in the prevalence of various pain problems including low back pain. Frequent use of opioids in managing chronic non-cancer pain has been a major issue for health care in the United States placing a significant strain on the economy with the majority of patients receiving opioids for chronic pain necessitating an increased production of opioids, and escalating costs of opioid use, even with normal intake. The additional costs of misuse, abuse, and addiction are enormous. Comorbidities including psychological and physical conditions and numerous other risk factors are common in spinal pain and add significant complexities to the interventionalist's clinical task. This section of the American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians (ASIPP)/Evidence-Based Medicine (EBM) guidelines evaluates the epidemiology, scope, and impact of spinal pain and its relevance to health care interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E35-E70
JournalPain physician
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2009


  • Chronic low back pain
  • Chronic neck pain
  • Chronic pain
  • Chronic spinal pain
  • Chronic thoracic pain
  • Comorbid factors
  • Health care impact
  • Health care utilization
  • Interventional techniques
  • Loss of productivity
  • Prevalence
  • Socioeconomic effects
  • Surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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