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Low back pain, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2010-2014.

Publication Status: Published

Sponsoring Organization: Defense Health Agency (formerly TRICARE Management Activity)

Sponsoring Office: Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center

Congressionally Mandated: No

Funding Source: Defense Health Agency (formerly TRICARE Management Activity)

Release Date/Publication: November 01, 2015

Principle Investigator Status: Government

Primary DoD Data Source: Defense Medical Surveillance System

Secondary DoD Data Source:


Low back pain (LBP) is a common cause of disability, lost worker productivity, and healthcare costs in both military and civilian populations. During the 5-year surveillance period of this analysis, the LBP diagnoses of interest were associated with more than 6 million outpatient healthcare encounters and more than 25,000 hospitalizations among active component service members. Annual numbers of outpatient encounters for LBP diagnoses increased 34% during 2010-2014. Annual numbers of inpatient encounters decreased during the period. Incidence rates were lowest among the youngest service members and increased with advancing age. Of all service members ever given a LBP diagnosis during the surveillance period, 91% were diagnosed at least once with a condition in the broad category "nonspecific back pain." The most common specific diagnosis during the surveillance period was lumbago. The discussion covers the importance of LBP in the military, initiatives to lower the incidence of, and enhance the care of, LBP, and methodologic limitations to the analysis.


AFHSC. Clark LL, Hu Z. Low back pain, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2010-2014. MSMR. 2015 Dec;22(12):8-11.

Last Updated: April 07, 2020

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