Lead Author(s): 

Gunnar Andersson, MD, PhD

Supporting Author(s): 

Sylvia I. Watkins-Castillo, PhD

Persons hospitalized for lumbar/low back pain in 2010 spent on average nearly 5 days in the hospital. Persons hospitalized for lumbar/low back injuries were hospitalized for the longest period of time, on average 7.6 days. When comparing the total days of hospitalization for all causes to those for lumbar/low back pain, back pain constitutes 5% to 7% of the discharges and of total hospital days, indicating hospital stays are, on average, similar to those for other causes. The length of hospital stays has remained relatively stable since 2004. (Reference Table 2.9.1 PDF CSV)

Although females are likely to have slightly shorter hospital stays for all causes of back pain, it is only for lumbar back injuries that there is a real difference between the sexes in length of stay.

Age is an important factor influencing length of stay. Although they constitute a small proportion of back pain hospitalizations, young persons under the age of 18 years have longer stays for back pain, in particular when compared to the average length of stay for persons in this age group; here the average length of stay is 1.5 to 2 times as long as for other diagnoses. After the age of 18 years, hospital stays for back pain tend to increase as the population ages. (Reference Table 2.9.2 PDF CSV)

Average hospital charges are provided along with length of stay in the HCUP NIS database. On average, hospital charges for a lumbar/low back pain inpatient visit were 131% that of the average inpatient visit for any cause. In 2011, an estimated $117 million in charges were assessed against the 2.53 million inpatient stays for lumbar/low back pain, 9% of the estimated total $1.37 billion in hospital charges for that year. Mean charges of $70,300 were highest for lumbar injuries and, at $41,800, lowest for lumbar back disorders. (Reference Table 2.9.2 PDF CSV)
Average Length of Stay and Hospital Charges For Low Back Pain  


  • 2014

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