Lower back pain (LBP) is the single biggest cause of disability in the world. It beats cancer, diabetes, heart disease, obesity; all 290 other conditions included in the study. I’m going to say it again, because I think it’s so mind-blowing… Lower back pain is the single biggest cause of disabiiltiy in the world. So were the findings of a group of researchers who spent months pouring over data from the Global Burden of Disease 2010 study.
On any given day, nearly 10% of people have lower back pain. All the conditions were ranked using a measure called “Years Lived with Disability” (YLDs), and another measure called “Disability Adjusted Life Years” (DALYs); lower back pain came 6th globally for DALYs, with DALYs increasing from 58.2million in 1990 to 83million in 2010. That’s a massive massive growth in 20 years.
Does “disability” mean ending up in a wheel chair? Probably not (though it does for a very few). If you have lower back pain (and there’s a 20-25% chance you’ll be a long term sufferer of LBP), you’ll experience more disability in your life due to your LBP than you will due to any one of cancer, diabetes, heart disease etc. Makes you think, eh?
What does disability most likely mean for you? It means not being able to work, look after yourself, care for family, enjoy hobbies, activities. It means sometimes going for days with very little movement, but lots of pain. It also means frustration, anxiety, potentially depression and social isolation, not to mention fears about what the pain means itself and whether it will ever get better. And if that’s your experience, think about that affecting hundreds of millions of people around the world on any given day. That’s a lot of unhappiness!!
In my experience LBP is often regarded as a minor irritation – if not by sufferers themselves, then certainly by their family, employer, health carers, and therefore by society as a whole. And yet, here we can clearly see that it’s so much more than a minor irritation. It’s the one thing that’s most likely to negatively impact on your health and to do so on and off for many years – the single biggest predictor of future lower back pain is past lower back pain.
So, what to do about it? If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you’ll know my own ambition is to help at least a million people to get a better back. If you’d like to make a contribution to helping other sufferers – and yourself in the process – I’m looking for a few volunteers to be involved in testing my new “amillionbetterbacks” online resource for LBP sufferers. There’s not much involved other than using the site, benefitting from the information and giving me some feedback. Once I’ve made any necessary improvements to the site it will be released to the world!! Please drop me an email if you’d like to help out. Thanks.