Even though many of us have experienced some degree of lower back pain during the course of our lives, we may not have a real appreciation of just how serious and debilitating this type of injury can prove to be for many people.
Indeed, some people suffer from such acute lower back pain that they are no longer able to perform their job, work in a position with lighter duties or even work while sitting down.
If you still don’t believe how truly incapacitating this type of injury can be, consider a recently published study in the Annals of Rheumatic Diseases examining the global impact of lower back pain.
After conducting a comprehensive examination of 117 studies from 47 nations and a multitude of other supplemental surveys, researchers with the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke determined that roughly $50 billion is spent on lower back pain here in the U.S. every year and, more significantly, that lower back pain is currently the leading cause of job disability in the entire world.
Some of the other study findings include:
- Lower back pain affects one out of every 10 people.
- People in Western Europe are the most likely to suffer from lower back pain, while people in Latin America and the Caribbean are the least likely to suffer from the condition.
- The rates of lower back pain will only increase over the coming years as the world’s elderly population increases.
The NINDS authors conclude by stating that these factors alone should serve as something of a wakeup call for governments around the world to start paying greater attention to the toll taken by lower back pain.
“Governments, health service and research providers and donors need to pay far greater attention to the burden that low back pain causes than what they had done previously,” reads the study.
Interestingly, NINDS does point out that while treatments exist for lower back pain — hot/cold packs, pain killers, acupuncture, surgery, etc. — exercise may hold the key for some.
“Exercise may be the most effective way to speed recovery from low back pain and help strengthen back and abdominal muscles,” reads the NINDS website. “Maintaining and building muscle strength is particularly important for persons with skeletal irregularities.”
Those for whom exercise — and work — is simply not an option due to an otherwise incapacitating back injury must always remember that they do have options for securing much-needed financial assistance via the Social Security Disability program.
Source: Time, “This is the no. 1 cause of disability worldwide,” Alexandra Sifferlin, March 25, 2014