Lower back pain causes more disability than any other condition with around eight in ten people in Britain affected by it, a new study has revealed.

It is the most common type of back pain in the country and the number of people affected is set to rise as the world’s booming population age.

It is often triggered by simple everyday activities such as bending awkwardly, lifting incorrectly, standing for long periods of time, slouching when sitting and driving for long periods without taking breaks.

Symptoms range from tension and stiffness to pain and soreness and is caused by structures in the back as opposed to rare conditions such as cancer or a fracture.

It affects the area of the body between the bottom of the ribcage and the top of the legs and occurs in a delicate area of muscles, nerves, bones and joints which continuously works hard to support the weight of the upper body.

The findings are based on data for the Global Burden of Disease 2010 study, which assesses ill health and disability arising from all conditions in 187 countries split into 21 regions for 1990, 2005, and 2010.

Researchers looked at the prevalence, incidence, remission, duration, and risk of death associated with low back pain in 117 published studies covering 47 countries and 16 of the 21 Global Disease world regions.

They also reviewed surveys in five countries about the impact of acute and severe chronic low back pain with and without leg pain and data from national health surveys.

These are worked out, by combining the number of years of life lost as a result of early death, and the number of years lived with disability.

Out of all 291 conditions studied in the 2010 study, low back pain came top of the league table in terms of years lost to disability and sixth in terms of DALYs.

It was ranked as the greatest contributor to disability in 12 of the 21 world regions, and the greatest contributor to overall burden in Western Europe and Australasia.

 

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