Low Back Pain is Now The Leading Cause of Disability Worldwide

Low back pain is an extremely common symptom and occurs in people of all incomes, races, genders and ages. Globally, years lived with disability caused by low back pain increased by 54% between 1990 and 2015, mainly because of increase in population size and life expectancy. Only a small percentage of people with low back pain fully understand the cause of their pain and have a correct diagnosis. For most of us, back pain is a mystery, something that seems to have come on as we got older and something we are unsure how to fix – or if it can be fixed at all. And it’s becoming a bigger and bigger problem, back pain is now the leading cause of disability worldwide.[su_spacer]

Who is most at risk?

  • People with physically demanding jobs, such as people who work in care or construction.
  • Smokers.
  • People who classify as obese on the BMI scale.
  • People who have other physical or mental health problems.
  • People with low levels of physical activity.
Disabling back pain is over represented in people with low socio-economic status. (Socioeconomic status is an economic and sociological combined total measure of a person’s work experience and of an individual’s or family’s economic and social position in relation to others, based on income, education, and occupation.)[su_spacer]

What is low back pain?

Low back pain is a symptom and not a disease and so there could be many different known or unknown causes of it. It is defined by pain between the lower ribs and the buttocks. People with lower back pain may also have pain in the legs. In many cases, the cause of the lower back pain is unknown, but this does not mean that symptoms should be ignored and untreated[su_spacer]

Why does back pain so often go without treatment?

Most people with low back pain recover quite quickly, but reoccurrence is common and it can become persistent. It is now understood that it’s more likely that your back pain is coming back over and over because of one problem, rather than it being caused by many unrelated instances.
Low back pain is predicted to increase globally! Part of the reason that low back pain is not treated properly is because there is still so much mythology surrounding it. Many people think that back pain is something that you have to put up with as you age, or something that cannot be fixed without surgery. (Read our 7 back pain myths debunked article.) It’s not that there is no treatment available, it’s just that many people, including physicians just aren’t educated about back pain treatment and so fall back on painkillers. Plus, it’s a big problem, but a common problem and when a problem is very common certain people may have a bias that it is therefore, not a big deal. The back pain treatment we have available in our clinic is hi-tec and very new, so it’s understandable that most people aren’t aware of it[su_spacer]

Back pain – a call to action.

Low back pain is clearly a huge, widespread problem. A recent report in The Lancet medical journal has included a call to action for low back pain which includes:
  • Addressing widespread misconceptions in culture, the media and health profressionals about the causes, prognosis and treatment of low back pain. Including dealing with outdated models of care.
  • Prioritising back pain as a public health problem.
  • Encouraging positive strategies for preventing back pain. (Keeping fit and active, stopping smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, safe workplace lifting etc)
  • Promoting rehabilitation to return to work. Staying at home and becoming inactive may only serve to make the back pain worse[su_spacer]

Prevention is always better than cure, and we have written some articles about how to prevent backpain:

But if you are one of the people who have recurrent or persistent back pain, we could be able to help you restore movement and flexibility to your back and decrease pain. Whether your back pain is the result of injury, a disc condition or is a mystery to you, we will be able to advise you on the best treatment options. Which could be the use of our Theraflex handset, our IDD spinal decompression machine, our Shockwave therapy or even just traditional hands on physio. We’re currently offering free 30 minute assessments – to book yours click here.

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The Author

Lewis Payne

Lewis graduated from The University of Nottingham in 2013 with a First Class Honours in Physiotherapy, worked as Sheffield F.C.’s first team Physiotherapist, and now runs a leading-edge private clinic in Sheffield. With over ten years of experience, he specialises in manual therapy, advanced technological treatments, and exercise-based approaches, focusing on spinal and joint conditions, sports injuries, and specifically complex spinal issues like disc pathology and scoliosis. Lewis leads in IDD Therapy, performing over 6000 treatments, offers MRI referrals and reviews, and employs a holistic treatment philosophy viewing the body as a Tensegrity structure. He excels in postural analysis, soft tissue release techniques, and prescribes biomechanical corrective exercises to enhance natural movement.