by Caleb MacLean

Growing Pains?

Maybe not. A look at the cost of LBP in kids.

What is the leading cause of disability in the world today? The answer, according to the World Health Organization’s 2010 Global Burden of Disease study, is low back pain (LBP). LBP is defined as pain in the area on the posterior aspect of the body, from the lower margin of the twelfth ribs to the lower gluteal folds, with or without pain referred into one or both lower limbs that lasts for at least one day. The common image of an LBP sufferer is a hard-laboring adult, or a senior citizen, but the fact is that low back pain in children and adolescents is a significant health problem, too.

As Dr. Naomi Betesh points out, in children and teens, back pain increases with age. And because LBP in adolescents leads to increased risk of recurrence in adulthood, physicians are realizing the importance of early detection and treatment in the pediatric population.

“Patients, whether adult or pediatric, have the best outcomes with a multidisciplinary treatment approach,” explains Dr. Betesh, a pain management and rehabilitation specialist at Union County Orthopedic Group in Linden and Clark. “Treatment strategies include core strengthening, postural training, proper biomechanics education, medication management and minimally invasive procedures.”

The 2010 WHO study, which was released in March 2014, concluded that LBP causes more global disability than any other condition. With the planet’s aging population, the report stated, “there is an urgent need for further research to better understand LBP across different settings.”


  • The annual bill for chronic pain in America, which includes healthcare costs plus lost productivity, is more than $600 billion.
  • More than 15% of that cost is related to lower back pain.
  • In 2014, 1 in 34 Americans will lose two weeks or more in productivity to LBP.
  • Only one-third of the annual cost of LBP in America is related to healthcare; lost wages and diminished productivity accounts for the remaining two-thirds.

Editor’s Note: The above statistics were part of a 2013 study that included information sourced from the CDC, the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.