Eighty percent of Americans suffer from back pain at some point in their lives. Back pain is the second most common reason for visits to the doctor’s office, outnumbered only by upper-respiratory infections.

According to a survey of 800 adults suffering from chronic back pain conducted in the spring of 2004 for American Chiropractic Association, around 18% of all chronic back pain (of those surveyed) was the result of an accident or injury. Almost 40% of the subjects reported their pain as very severe or severe at the time of the survey and 71% said that they had endured chronic back pain for five or more years.

More than 80% of those interviewed said that they would prefer not to take medication. Ironically, most were already taking pain medication. While nearly two-thirds of the respondents said that they would consider seeking the services of a chiropractor, only 14% of them were currently seeking health care from a doctor of chiropractic.

More than a quarter of the respondents reported that they were taking a form of anti-inflammatory medication or narcotic for their chronic back pain; 25% said that they took over-the-counter medications; and about 20% used muscle relaxants. When those surveyed were asked if they felt their pain was under control as a result of current treatment, 30% indicated their pain was not. An additional 39% said their pain was only moderately under control.

Recent evidence supporting the efficacy of chiropractic care comes from a study published in the July 15, 2003, edition of the journal Spine. It found that manual manipulation provides better relief of chronic spinal pain than does acupuncture or even a variety of medications.