SYDNEY: Low back pain causes more disability than nearly 300 other conditions worldwide, according to new research, and nearly one in 10 people across the globe suffers from an aching lower back.
A second study, which looked at the condition in specific types of jobs, found that low back pain is responsible for about a third of work-related disability.
“Low back pain is something that almost all people experience at some point in their lives. It is something common across sexes, age groups, countries, socioeconomic groups, education levels and occupation,” said the lead author of the first study, Damian Hoy, a senior research fellow at the University of Queensland’s School of Population Health, in Australia.
“For the majority of people with low back pain, the specific cause is unclear,” he said, but “there are certain factors that seem to put people at risk of having low back pain.”
Older age, obesity, having stress, anxiety or depression as well as occupations that require significant heavy lifting or are extremely stressful are all factors that increase the risk of low back pain, according to Hoy.
“Back pain is the number one cause of lost work days in the US,” said Dr. Anders Cohen, chief of neurosurgery and spine surgery at the Brooklyn Hospital Center, in New York City.
For the first study, Hoy and his colleagues reviewed 117 published studies that included information on low back pain prevalence. They also reviewed surveys done in 50 countries on back pain prevalence and severity.