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Low back pain causes more global disability than any other health problem studied.

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 Damian Hoy, Senior Research Fellow at the University of Queensland’s School of Population Health, in Australia.

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.
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.

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 work-related disability was related to low back pain, the study found.

“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.

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