Low back pain leading cause of disability world­wide: Study

Daily Trust - - HEALTH -

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, low ed­u­ca­tion, 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.

One U.S. ex­pert said the re­sults didn’t sur­prise him.

“Back pain is the num­ber one cause of lost work days in the U.S,” 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.

Com­pared to 291 other health con­di­tions, the re­searchers found that low back pain causes more global disability than any other health prob­lem stud­ied. Back pain af­fected 9.4 per­cent of people in 2010, their anal­y­sis showed.

Men were more likely than women to have back pain -- an aver­age of just over 10 per­cent of men had back pain com­pared with 8.7 per­cent of women.

Back pain also var­ied sig­nif­i­cantly by ge­o­graphic area. “Preva­lence was high­est in Western Europe fol­lowed by North Africa/ Mid­dle East, and low­est in the Caribbean fol­lowed by Cen­tral Latin Amer­ica,” Hoy said.

In Western Europe, the aver­age preva­lence of back pain was 15 per­cent, and in the North Africa/Mid­dle East re­gion, it was 14.8 per­cent. The low­est rates were found in the Caribbean, where the preva­lence rate was 6.5 per­cent, and in Cen­tral Latin Amer­ica, where it was 6.6 per­cent, Hoy re­ported. Low back pain preva­lence was 7.7 per­cent in high­in­come ar­eas of North Amer­ica.

Higher lev­els of ex­er­cise, shorter height, higher pain thresh­olds, and less ac­cess to health in­sur­ance may be rea­sons why de­vel­op­ing coun­tries re­ported slightly lower rates of low back pain, Hoy sug­gested.

The sec­ond study -- done by re­searchers in Aus­tralia and the United States -- looked at data from 187 coun­tries from 1990 and 2010. Just over one-third of all workre­lated disability was re­lated to low back pain, the study found.

The risk of low back pain was nearly four times higher for people work­ing in agri­cul­ture, an­i­mal hus­bandry, forestry, fish­ing and hunt­ing com­pared to other pro­fes­sions, re­ported a team led by Dr. Tim Driscoll of the Univer­sity of Syd­ney, in Aus­tralia.

People work­ing in pro­duc­tion, la­bor­ers and trans­port equip­ment oper­a­tors had a 54 per­cent higher risk of low back pain, while ser­vice work­ers had a 47 per­cent in­creased risk, ac­cord­ing to the study. Cler­i­cal work was as­so­ci­ated with the low­est rates of low back pain.

Stay­ing in shape is one of the best ways to pre­vent back pain, ac­cord­ing to U.S. ex­pert Co­hen. “The aver­age young adult may be ath­letic and in pretty good shape,” he said. “Once you get into your job life, you may not keep up your nor­mal fit­ness level and com­bine that with ag­ing and then ex­er­cis­ing a lot on the week­ends, and you end up with a sit­u­a­tion that’s not good for your back,” he ex­plained.

He said it’s im­por­tant to main­tain core strength and flex­i­bil­ity to keep your back healthy.

For people who al­ready have low back pain, Dr. Rachelle Buch­binder, a co-au­thor on Hoy’s study and a pro­fes­sor of epi­demi­ol­ogy and pre­ven­tive medicine at Monash Univer­sity in Aus­tralia, had sug­ges­tions for their doc­tors.

“For non­spe­cific low back pain -which ex­plains the ma­jor­ity of back pain -- ev­i­dence-based man­age­ment in­volves re­as­sur­ance about the fa­vor­able prog­no­sis, ad­vice to con­tinue usual ac­tiv­i­ties and stay ac­tive, and the pre­scrib­ing of sim­ple anal­gesics [painkillers] as needed,” Buch­binder said.

Both she and Co­hen said surgery isn’t of­ten nec­es­sary.

“With ag­ing and grow­ing pop­u­la­tions, low back pain is an enor­mous bur­den in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries,” lead au­thor Hoy said. “This is pre­dicted to grow sub­stan­tially over com­ing decades and will likely have an enor­mous im­pact on in­di­vid­ual liveli­hoods, health care sys­tems and economies.”

Both stud­ies were pub­lished on­line on March 24 in the An­nals of the Rheumatic Dis­eases.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Nigeria

© PressReader. All rights reserved.