Lower Back Pain Is Now Officially The World's Biggest Work Disability

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Low back pain causes more disability around the globe than any other condition, according to new research.

And the problem will get worse as the world population growth gathers pace and the proportion of elderly rises.

The researchers, writing in the journal Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, say governments and health services need to take the issue far more seriously.

The authors base their findings on data from the Global Burden of Disease 2010 study, which assesses ill health/disability arising from all conditions in 187 countries for 1990, 2005, and 2010.

They looked at the prevalence, incidence, remission, duration, and risk of death associated with low back pain in 117 published studies covering 47 countries.

Out of all 291 conditions studied in the Global Burden of Disease 2010 study, low back pain came top of the league table in terms of years lost to disability.

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.

Almost one in 10 people (9.4%) had low back pain.

“With ageing populations throughout the world, but especially in low and middle income countries, the number of people living with low back pain will increase substantially over coming decades,” the authors write.

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