Patients with back problems represent an enormous reason for visits to the hospital, with 7.3 million ED visits and more than 2.3 million hospital inpatient stays in 2008.
Of these, nearly half of patients who visited the ED and 28% of patients who required an inpatient stay had back problems listed as a principal diagnosis. The remaining listed back problems as a secondary or co-morbid complicating condition.
That's according to a statistical brief from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project.
"Not only do back problems result in expensive and resource intensive medical care," the report's authors wrote, "but they also result in loss of functioning, reduced quality of life and reduced productivity in the workforce."
Back problems, such as spondylosis, intervertebral disc disorders or other back pain, are the ninth most expensive condition treated in U.S. hospitals, with the aggregate cost for inpatient stays for patients with a principal diagnosis of back problems was more than $9.5 billion in 2008, the report said.