Low back pain world's highest contributor to disability, study finds

A new study shows that lower back pain and osteoarthritis are now ranked second only to cancer as the leading cause of disease burden in Australasia. Credit: iStock

(Medical Xpress)—Low back pain is the highest contributor to disability in the world, according to a pivotal international study released today.

A study published by The Lancet in the latest Global Burden of Disease Study, found lower back pain and osteoarthritis are now ranked second only to cancer as a leading cause of disease burden in Australasia.

Professor Rachelle Buchbinder, from Monash University's Department of Epidemiology and and the Cabrini Institute led the study in collaboration with Professor Lyn March of the University of Sydney.

Professor Buchbinder said the findings confirmed the global burden of was much higher than previously estimated and re-allocation of resources for research, treatment and prevention was urgently needed.

"Our study shows that lower back pain and are now ranked second only to cancer as the leading cause of disease burden in Australasia," Professor Buchbinder said.

"With ageing populations, it is highly likely this burden will increase, suggesting the health and research priorities that governments and others give to low back pain should be increased.

"Research is urgently needed to develop effective prevention and with the potential benefits of likely to be substantial."

Extensive research from 47 countries found the global burden of disability due to low back pain was previously underestimated. The researchers identified 116 studies measuring the prevalence of worldwide and found 780 estimates from 47 countries. They found the prevalence of low back pain was higher in women and peaked in adolescence and at age 65 years.

The study also found that in Australasia, musculoskeletal conditions account for 15 per cent of the total burden of death and disability, just behind cancer at 16.2 per cent followed by heart disease, mental health and substance abuse at around 13 per cent.

"These are all important health issues and recognised as national health priorities by the Australian government but to date musculoskeletal conditions have not received an equitable level of priority," Professor Buchbinder said.

More information: www.thelancet.com/themed/global-burden-of-disease

Related Stories

Adolescents' weight linked to severe knee pain

date Sep 05, 2012

(Medical Xpress)—Adolescents with a body mass index (BMI) rating of obese experience knee pain more often and to a greater severity than adolescents with a healthy weight, a new study shows.

Research proves tai chi benefits for arthritis

date Jun 16, 2009

A new study by The George Institute for International Health has found Tai Chi to have positive health benefits for musculoskeletal pain. The results of the first comprehensive analysis of Tai Chi suggest that it produces ...

Recommended for you

New measures identified for newborn care in Uganda

date 10 minutes ago

In Uganda, child mortality rates are improving, but progress is slower for deaths occurring in the first four weeks of life, or the newborn period, and for stillbirths. But recent evidence from local researchers ...

Should men cut back on their soy intake?

date 2 hours ago

Recently, a friend called my husband to inquire about the risks for men in consuming too much soy milk. He had read an article that described how one individual's plight led him down the path of breast enlargement, and was ...

Probing Question: What is umami?

date 3 hours ago

The next time you're at a dinner party and want to spice up the conversation, you might compliment the hosts on their umami-rich appetizers. Then wait a moment until someone invariably asks, "What's umami?"

Will the Affordable Care Act eliminate health disparities?

date 4 hours ago

Massachusetts' health reform may be a crystal ball for researchers and policymakers in forecasting the potential impact of the Affordable Care Act. Many see the ACA as the backbone of efforts toward closing the nation's health ...

Experts question election pledges on GP access

date 16 hours ago

As the general election in the UK approaches, experts writing in The BMJ this week question whether the party promises on access to general practice are likely to be achievable.

User comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

ScooterG
Dec 14, 2012
I suffered from lower back pain for nearly 30 years - it was horrible. Then, at the advise of a naturopathic MD, I treated my kidneys with over-the-counter kidney supplements. One week later, I was pain free and have been for 7 years now.

My back does still begin to hurt from time to time, but when it does, I eat some kidney supplements and the pain goes away again.

If anyone suffers from back pain, you owe it to yourself to try treating your kidneys, maybe your prostate - any internal organ that is in proximity to the pain area. At the very least, you can eliminate the kidneys as a possible source of the pain.

For 1/10th the cost of a visit to a chiropractor, I am able to live pain free.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.