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Back pain is the #1 cause of years lived with disability worldwide and one of the most common reasons for health care visits in developed countries, yet surprisingly little is known regarding the biology underlying this symptom. Chronic back pain is the major driver of the societal burden of back pain. Identifying biological pathways involved in chronic back pain through genetic association studies might reveal insights into the underlying mechanisms involved or suggest potential avenues for the development of new treatments. We conducted the first genome-wide association study meta-analysis to examine genetic variants associated with chronic back pain. We identified variants associated with chronic back pain in 158,025 individuals of European ancestry from 16 cohorts in Europe and North America, and replicated our findings in 283,752 UK Biobank participants of European ancestry not included in the discovery sample. Our study identifies three novel genome-wide significant associations with chronic back pain, and suggests possible shared genetic mechanisms with other traits such as cartilage, osteoarthritis, lumbar disc degeneration, depression, and height/vertebral development.