Lower back pain is one of the most common medical conditions facing people throughout the world today. Lower back pain is quite prevalent, accounts for a great deal of lost time from work, high medical costs, and has a large impact upon the economy.
The human cost that low back pain inflicts is also quite troubling when you consider just how many people suffer from its various forms. The average person has at least one significant painful episode involving their lower back during their lifetime and approximately 80% of those people will suffer enough to seek medical care or take medication.
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Lower back pain has many different causes and can be rather complicated to figure out. Previous research has indicated that lower back pain is the number one cause of disability on a global scale.
A new report looked at the data regarding the incidence, prevalence, classification, and mortality rates of lower back pain from 170 studies involving 85 different countries. Lower back pain was defined as pain that lasted longer than one day which may extend into one or both legs and was ranked as being the most significant in those living with a disability.
The researchersdiscovered that lower back painhad aglobal prevalence of above nine percent and men were morelikely to suffer from back pain than women.The results of this study also indicated that the highest prevalence for lower back pain was in Western Europe at 15% while North America had an average prevalence of just over seven percent.
As the population continues to increase—the aging trends are predicting a larger demographic over the age of 65—there will be more people living with lower back pain and being disabled by it.
According to the study’s author, Dr. Damian Hoy, “The process for estimating the global burden of lower back pain has been extensive, and has taken almost six years.The results show that the prevalence and burden from lower back pain is very high throughout the world.”
The research also discovered that most cases of occupational back pain were associated with jobs that involved rapid or repetitive movements, repeated bending, heavy lifting, sustained sitting or standing, and prolonged strain on the spine with little time to rest. They were also more likely to occur in males aged 35-65 years old.
As a person trained to diagnose and manage lower back pain, I can verify that this is also what the literature regarding rehabilitation and disability reveals as the cause of lower back pain in the workplace.
Lower back pain is disabling when it prevents someone from being able to work, perform recreational activities, and easily complete the activities of daily living. Lower back pain can also become disabling if it affects the individual’s quality of life or their psychological outlook.
The best way to prevent disability attributed to lower back pain is by regularly practicing preventative strategies. Preventing weight gain, improving your level of physical conditioning, flexibility, and core strength combined with the proper ergonomic environment at work will greatly reduce this burden on our society.
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Hand, L., “Low Back Pain Top Cause of Disability Worldwide, ”Medscape web site; http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/822492.
Hoy, D., et al., “The global burden of low back pain: estimates from the Global Burden of Disease 2010 study, ”Ann Rheum Dis.