The number of people suffering from low back pain at a given time, range between 5% to 30% of the population. Recent studies have found that back pain is a common occurrence among school children and adolescents as well.
Low back pain has a tremendous impact on Canadians and is a major socio-economic burden. It is one of the leading causes of visits made to health care providers and of time lost from the workplace. Nearly every scientific study on any aspect of low back pain refers to it as being the single greatest area of social and economic loss.
A recent Health Canada study (Economic Burden of Illness in Canada, 1993) revealed that musculoskeletal disorders ranked second after cardiovascular disease in terms of highest cost of burden of illness in Canadian society, at over 17 billion dollars or 13.8% of the total (direct and indirect) cost of illness in 1993. Musculoskeletal conditions were found to account for over 35% of indirect costs (over 15 billion dollars) of long-term disability - by far the highest of all conditions. Morbidity costs due to back and spine long-term disability were estimated at over 4 billion dollars in 1993.
The total direct costs attributed to physicians, drugs and hospitals in the management of musculoskeletal conditions was estimated at roughly 2.5 billion dollars in 1993. Traditional medical management of back pain has been costly and ineffective. The need to shift to chiropractic care for low back pain management becomes even more apparent from a health policy perspective in light of the high costs, failure of may medical interventions, concerns about inappropriate surgery, hospitalization and prescription of drugs, and growing recognition and evidence of the effectiveness of spinal manipulation.