Lower back pain has emerged as the biggest cause of global disability said a study.
In a study based on data of ill health and disability arising from all health conditions in 187 countries, the prevalence and the overall impact of the condition increases with age.
“With ageing populations throughout the world, but especially in low and middle income countries, the number of people living with lower back pain will increase substantially over coming decades,” the researchers cautioned.
They looked at the prevalence, incidence, remission, duration and risk of death associated with lower back pain in 117 published studies covering 47 countries and 16 of the 21 Global Disease world regions.
The researchers also surveyed in five countries about the impact of acute and severe chronic lower back pain with and without leg pain; and data from national health surveys in many countries.
The authors then assessed the toll taken by low back pain in terms of disability adjusted life years (DALYs).
These are worked out, by combining the number of years of life lost as a result of early death, and the number of years lived with disability.
Out of all 291 conditions studied in the Global Burden of Disease 2010 study, lower back pain came top of the league table in terms of years lost to disability, and sixth in terms of disability adjusted life years.
It was ranked as the greatest contributor to disability in 12 of the 21 world regions, and the greatest contributor to overall burden in Western Europe and Australasia.