Lower Back Pain is #1 Cause of Disability

Lower Back Pain is #1 Cause of Disability

Lower back pain is the leading cause of disability worldwide, according to a large new study published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.

Researchers in the U.K., Australia and the U.S. studied data from the Global Burden of Disease study, which assessed the health of people in 187 countries. They found that almost one out of ten people (9.4%) suffers from lower back pain – a number likely to rise as the population ages.

Back Pain“Governments, health service and research providers and donors need to pay far greater attention to the burden that low back pain causes,” wrote lead author Dr. Tony Woolf from the Royal Cornwall Hospital in the UK.

“With aging 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.”

Lower back pain was most common in Western Europe, where 15% of the population suffers from it; followed by North Africa and the Middle East. It was least common in the Caribbean and Latin America.

Lower back pain is not usually linked to any serious disease. It can be triggered by any number of everyday activities, including bad posture, bending awkwardly, lifting incorrectly or standing for long periods of time.

“Many people develop back pain for no obvious reasons, and research suggests that it’s impossible to identify a specific cause of pain for around 85 per cent of people in the early stages,” a spokeswoman for Arthritis Research UK told the Daily Express.

“Treatment such as physiotherapy, pain relief and exercise to keep the muscles supporting the spine strong can all help.”

Men (10.1%) are more likely to suffer from lower back pain than women (8.7%).

The study was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Australian Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing, the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council, and the Ageing and Alzheimer’s Research Foundation.

Authored by: Pat Anson, Editor

There are 6 comments for this article
  1. Stephen S. Rodrigues, MD at 11:26 am

    Actually there is a therapy that anyone can use, at home and with some help, that should reverse the “damage” and set in motion the innate healing power of nature.

    The why “no one ever told me this?!!” That is because medicine/healthcare is so high-tech that the old therapies that were handed down from antiquity have been trashed, marginalized and disavowed.

    How do I know? I’m old school and back in the 80’s we had Physical Medicine and Rehab Departments where PT was aggressive and hands-on. High-Technology was young. Today those departments are almost empty shells of those glorious days. In actuality these Deptmts have evolved into Pain Management Departments with high-tech fixes and repairs. The hands on or touch does not exist as in the old days.

    Another issue is the loss of the true intent of therapy which in the 1980s was aimed at the muscles, tendons, ligaments which is actually where back muscle pain lives. So in the 80s the focus was the muscles, alignment, heat, stretching, traction, massage and exercise to relax the muscles. People did better overall (IMO) even though a pinpoint cause was unknown. The exact and beyond a shadow of a doubt cause was not necessary to know, because the intent of therapy was focused at all the issues; the muscles, preventive measures, lifestyle and the person.

    For the past 2 decades everyone has a slightly different idea and thus a different treatment. Sometimes in the 90’s researchers dumped the muscle therapy and replaced it with a “nerve theory.” The stressed nerves are causing all the pain. These stressed nerves are being “pinched” by the skeleton, disc, joints, malalignment and need to be the focus of care. The muscles were completely discounted as innocent bystanders. With this new idea all of technology is aimed at rescuing the nerves from the associated structures. So with some successful surgeries and procedures the train started barreling down the tracks taking along a flawed and narrow concept. This idea does not take into account the nerve is being stressed SECONDARILY and is not primary. You can not reverse a problem by addressing the secondary issues.

    Today modern medicine with all of this high-technology forgot the musculoskeletal system is both muscles and skeleton and the MUSCLES have the ability to crush the joints, disc, cartilage, nerves, blood vessels to cause searing pain. If one turns the nerves off and leave the sick muscles alone, the treatment will eliminate some of the pain temporarily, but since the muscles are the primary cause, the surgical success rates will be lower.

    OH — the old treatments considered that muscles could generate pain signals PRIMARILY too, so you get a double whammy of pain signals. The pain signals in the muscle is erratic, quirky, more stubborn, can feel like it’s deep in the joint, gut, bladder or bone or can be projected to a distant area to fool and bewilder the most astute physicians who don’t know. Most importantly this pain, canNOT be seen with X-Rays, testing or MRIs and canNOT be fixed with a scalpel or medicated away with a pill.

    So, If you would like to begin your journey of self-healing, here is a list of all the therapies from way back to the present that are safe, non-toxic, innocent and will ignite and fuel natural healing. The key is to personalize it to your individual case and use everything simultaneously in a “recipe” to get the best healing effect;

    Magnesium Glycinate, Start stretching on the floor or even in the bed. Active Isolated Stretching. Get a foam roller to work on your hip/back and abdominal area. Swimming, Yoga, Aqua-Therapy and Hot-tub Spa therapy. Reflexology and related options. Acupressure. Use self-trigger point release or acupuncture with your hands or a T-cane. Try a Chi Machine. Use Cupping. Use Gua Sha. Find a PT specialist who can perform “Spray and Stretch.” The Graston Technique. Get help from a professional massage person. Find a John F. Barnes therapist. Zero Balancing.

    In the office, I use lots of acupuncture, dry needling, Gunn-IMS, lots of strategically placed Trigger Points Injections (no steroids) as per Travell/Simons/Rachlin, proloTherapy “Like” injections as per Hackett, MD.

  2. helen scott at 5:00 am

    i have constant back pain. and find it worse at night when i go to bed. i have a hospital bed. with a good mattress. yet find it very hard to sleep. i also have obstructive sleep apnoea. and this makes sleep very difficult. i am supposed to have a special device to wear nightly, but have not got it yet. due to financial difficulties. please suggest a way or ways. to try and cope with this. thank you. from helen scott. in australia. on sunday night. 30th march. 2014.

  3. Wendy at 9:03 pm

    I have lumbar facet joint pain. Exercise (walking) makes it worse. I also have fibromyalgia. My doctor refuses to increase the dose of my pain treatment because of tolerance. But at age 70 who cares about tolerance.

  4. Ted mac at 3:50 pm

    Exercise may not help. But it is a very good option. Crippling back pain. Walk one hour every day. Now minor pain and a life. Lost weight. No gut. Strong tummy. Pain in the arse to do but all I have to encourage me is think of the exquisiteness of my back pain. I thought my life was ove.

  5. Dennis J. Capolongo at 7:30 am

    The study focused on “age” as the most likely factor for their predicted rise in low back pain when there are many other contributing factors, such as genetics, diet & obesity, job description, sleep disorders (plus old aging mattresses instead of people) and yes, physical fitness. So even though this study was funded by the Gates Foundation, is skewed and flawed by the doctors who conducted it. You wasted your money Bill!

    Our patient outreach indicates that the interventionists themselves can and do exacerbate back pain with their so-called “minimally evasive” spinal procedures such as Epidural Steroid Injections (ESI’s). Did you know that the number one adverse medical event reported to the FDA following an ESI is “increased pain” not less? Think about it the next time your doctor tells you he or she can “help your pain” with one or more of these!

  6. Cyndi at 5:51 pm

    And even knowing that, there is no effective treatment for it. Believe me, I know!