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New Study Finds Low Back Pain Leading Cause of Disability

Low back pain

A new study published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases journal reported that low back pain is a leading cause of disability not only in the United States, but worldwide. 1 out of every 10 people suffer from some type of low back pain. Out of 21 regions studied, the top regions for disability were Western Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. The lowest numbers in disability from low back pain were in the areas of the Caribbean and Latin America. The study was conducted over a 6 year span and used data about back pain from other studies dating back as early as 1990.

Study author Damian Hoy from the University of Queensland’s School of Population Health in Australia says, “Low back pain is something that almost all people experience at some point in their lives.” He adds, “It is something common across sexes, age groups, countries, socioeconomic groups, education levels and occupation.”

The global study looked at 300 other disabling conditions compared to low back pain. Many different circumstances may lead to the risk of low back pain but some of the contributing factors may be higher than others. In the US,  a leading contributor  to those with low back pain had jobs that involved heavy lifting or were extremely stressful. It was also found that men as a group have a larger risk of developing low back pain than women.

Dr. Anders Cohen, Chief of Neurosurgery and Spine Surgery at Brooklyn Hospital Center in New York concurs with the findings. He says, “Back pain is the number one cause of lost work days in the U.S.”   The problem is expected to become more common as the world population ages. The author of the study notes that governments and  health services  need to pay more attention to the disability problems that low back pain causes.


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