Objective: To estimate the US prevalence and psychological and health behavior correlates of low back pain and/or neck pain. No current US national prevalence estimates of low back and neck pain exist and few studies have investigated the associations between low back and neck pain, psychological factors, and health behaviors in a representative sample of US community dwellers.
Methods: We analyzed data obtained from adults ages 18 years or older (n = 29,828) who participated in the 2002 National Health Interview Survey, a cross-sectional, population-based survey of US adults.
Results: The 3-month US prevalence of back and/or neck pain was 31% (low back pain: 34 million, neck pain: 9 million, both back and neck pain: 19 million). Generally, adults with low back and/or neck pain reported more comorbid conditions, exhibited more psychological distress (including serious mental illness), and engaged in more risky health behaviors than adults without either condition.
Conclusion: Low back and neck pain are critical public health problems. Our study supports the idea of a multidimensional approach to examining low back and neck problems and suggests the need for further research to address potentially modifiable psychological factors and health behaviors in these populations.