In this article, the epidemiology of back pain and the use of a variety of treatments for back pain in the United States are reviewed. The dilemma faced by medical providers caring for patients with low back pain is examined in the context of epidemiologic data. Back pain is becoming increasingly common and a growing number of treatment options are being used with increasing frequency in clinical practice. However, limited evidence exists to demonstrate the effectiveness of these treatments. In addition, health-related quality of life for persons with back pain is not improving despite the availability and use of an expanding array of treatments. This dilemma poses a difficult challenge for medical providers treating individual patients who suffer from back pain.