Managing Neck and Back Pain in America

January 10, 2019

Managing Neck and Back Pain in America

In the fourth installment of Gallup and Palmer’s annual report, we unveil new findings on Americans’ preferences for neck or back pain care, patient experiences with health-care providers and the prevalence of various methods for addressing this type of pain in the United States. Click the image to view a .pdf of the full report.

Among the key findings:

  • Americans are open to an all-of-the-above approach to address neck and back pain. Sixty-seven percent of Americans suffering from neck or back pain would want to see a professional who treats neck or back pain using a variety of methods including prescription medication or surgery. Still, 79% of U.S. adults would prefer to try to address their neck or back pain using methods other than prescription medication first.

  • Many neck or back pain patients use self-care techniques – non-drug therapies such as superficial heat (77%), yoga (72%) and cold packs (60%). However, many also use non-drug therapies that require a health-care professional for care, such as massage (53%), spinal adjustment (47%) and physical therapy (42%).

  • Americans’ reasons for visiting different practitioners vary. Among those who’d seen an M.D. most often for recent neck or back pain, the top reasons were insurance coverage (38%), trust (30%), habit (26%) and effectiveness (23%). For physical therapists, it’s safety (50%), insurance coverage (47%) and effectiveness (42%). For chiropractors, it’s safety (54%), trust (53%) and effectiveness (52%).

A majority of U.S. adults have positive views of chiropractors.

  • 63 percent agree most chiropractors have their patients' best interest in mind

  • 52 percent agree most chiropractors are trustworthy

Other key findings include:

  • Among frequently visited practitioners, sufferers of neck or back pain report a high level of care.

    • Roughly nine out of 10 adults who saw a chiropractor most often for significant neck or back pain in the last 12 months say their chiropractor often listens (93%), provides convenient, quick access to care (93%), demonstrates care/compassion (91%) and explains things well (88%). Similar percentages exist for physical therapists.

    • Adults who saw a medical doctor most often for neck or back pain are less likely to say their health care provider did these things – although majorities still do. Seventy-two percent say their medical doctor listens, 67% say their medical doctor explains things well, and 66% say they demonstrate care/compassion.

  • News Release

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  • 2018 Gallup-Palmer Report

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