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Back Pain Care Spending Nearly Doubled in a Decade

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, July 29, 2010

Americans spent nearly twice as much money on treatment for back pain, in 2007 compared with 1997, or $30.3 billion compared with $16 billion, according to a report from the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (Back Problems: Use and Expenditures for the U.S. Adult Population, 2007)

The money spent was on an increasing share of office visits to see physicians, physical therapists, chiropractors in ambulatory settings, and on medication—74%, compared with 65% spent on those care expenses in 1997. The remainder in both years was spent on hospital care, including emergency room visits, and on home health services.

In 2007, back pain sufferers and their payers spent $18 billion on office visits and $4.5 billion on drugs, compared with $9.3 billion spent on office-based treatments and $1.2 billion on medications in 1997.

The data from the federal Medical Expenditure Panel Survey takes a detailed look at how healthcare dollars are spent, the cost of certain medical services and treatments and the frequency with which Americans access care.

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