Low Back Pain Causes Disability Around the World

Low back pain was the number one cause of global disability

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Is that constant pain in your lower back affecting your day-to-day life? You aren't alone.

The Global Burden of Disease 2010 study measured the rates and burden of various health conditions around the globe.

The researchers found that low back pain caused more disability than any other condition.

The authors of this study estimated that almost one in 10 individuals around the world has debilitating low back pain.

"If you have low back pain, talk to your doctor about treatment options."

Dr. Rachelle Buchbinder, of the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine at Monash University, led this study.

Low back pain is a relatively common health problem that can range from minor to debilitating.

Part of the Global Burden of Disease 2010 study, which assessed health and disability issues in 198 countries, focused on low back pain.

For the purpose of this study, low back pain was defined as pain in the rear, lower part of the torso.

The researchers used four levels of pain, each associated with an increasing level of disability, to characterize low back pain.

For example, a person with low back pain that causes difficulty with lifting things was assigned less of a disability "weight" than a person with constant low back and leg pain that has lost some enjoyment in life.

The researchers used data from 117 previously published studies on low back pain, which covered 47 countries. They also looked at surveys in five countries about the impact of chronic low back pain, as well as data from national health surveys in several more countries.

Dr. Buchbinder and team used the data to determine how many years lived with disability that lower back pain was causing worldwide.

These researchers found that 9.4 percent of the population experienced low back pain in 2010. Low back pain was most prevalent among people who were around 80 years old.

These researchers also found that low back pain was the greatest contributor to global disability.

Low back pain was responsible for 83 million life-years spent living with a disability.

The authors of this study concluded that the prevalence and burden of low back pain was very high throughout the world.

They also suggested that governments, health services and researchers need to pay more attention to the health burden of low back pain.

This study was published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases on March 24.

The research was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and government and nonprofit grants. The authors disclosed no competing interests.

Review Date: 
March 24, 2014
Last Updated:
May 19, 2014