You may be surprised to learn that it is lower back pain.

New reports have come out stating that lower back pain is the leading cause of disabilityworldwide. It beat out about 300 other conditions for this dubious distinction. Two studies synthesized data from all over the world to come to these conclusions. The studies were both published recently in Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.

Research has shown that nearly one in 10 people across the world have lower back pain. It is also the cause of about a third of work-related disability. A study done by researchers in Australia and the United States used data from 187 countries from 1990 and 2010. The conclusion was that over one third of all work-related disability was related to lower back pain.

Researchers at the University of Queensland’s School of Population Health in Australia reviewed 117 published studies that had information on the prevalence of lower back pain. They also reviewed studies from 50 different countries on back pain prevalence and severity.

The principal finding is that lower back pain is experienced by almost everyone at some point.

“It is something common across sexes, age groups, countries, socioeconomic groups, education levels and occupation,” said the lead author of the study, Damian Hoy.

What causes lower back pain?

There are many possible causes of lower back pain, and a specific reason can be hard to pinpoint. The studies found that some factors contributing to lower back pain include:

  • Aging – older age
  • Low education
  • Obesity
  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Occupations requiring lifting and manual labor, or stressful jobs

According to Dr. Anders Cohen, chief of neurosurgery and spine surgery at the Brooklyn Hospital Center, “back pain is the number one cause of lost work days in the U.S.”

What can we do to improve this?

There are ways to help prevent back pain, such as:

  • Stay active – Light exercise can actually help prevent back pain. It’s better to keep moving, rather than rest.
  • Lose weight – Staying active can also help you to maintain a healthy weight. There is an association between obesity and back pain, for a few different reasons. But for overall health and back pain prevention, being a healthy weight is a plus.
  • Sit up straight – Good posture can go a long way in helping align your spine.
  • Quit smoking – Smoking is detrimental to health, and can even add to back pain.

If back pain continues, or interferes with daily life to the point that you are missing work, then you should seek help. Contact us or call our dedicated Medical Concierge at 800-890-1964 to learn more.