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low back pain number one cause of disability worldwide



Noupload Andy (Noupload) – Halbinsel Eiderstedt/Germany – Pixabay

According to two brand new studies published in the journal Annals of Rheumatic Diseases, LOW BACK PAIN is the number one reason for debilitating pain worldwide.  Dr. Damian Hoy (a physio therapist with a Masters of Public Health) of the University of Queensland in Australia has been a major driving force in a whole slew of recent studies on debilitating pain, which fall under the umbrella of the Global Burden of Disease Study.  Although there were nearly 300 diseases that were looked at, Hoy’s group was in charge of some of the heavy-hitters in the muskuloskeletal field, ranging from the Low Back Pain as mentioned above, to CHRONIC NECK PAIN, to Hip Pain / Knee Pain (Osteoarthritis, often called DJD), to RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS.  

How much have these various problems increased in recent years?  Note that all of the stats are calculated in DALY’s (Disability-Adjusted Life Years).  In other words, each DALY stands for one year that one person has been totally disabled.  The stats were gathered over a period of 20 years, with the initial number coming from 1990 and the second number coming from 2010. 

  • LOW BACK PAIN:  Debilitating Low Back Pain has gone from 58 million to 83 million DALY’s worldwide.  Be aware that globally, this study showed that almost one in ten adults was debilitated by Low Back Pain, which ranked #6 in terms of DALY’s, and #1 in terms of length of time lived in pain.   Interestingly enough, when the numbers of those suffering from debilitating back pain were looked at a decade ago (the halfway point), Low Back Pain ranked near the bottom (105 out of 136).  This is because at that time, they were using “Spinal Disease” (gross pathology) as their criteria.  In other words, the results were based on imaging findings from X-rays, MRI, etc.  Many countries did / do not have ready access to this sort of imaging, nor does “SPINAL PATHOLOGY” or the lack thereof, correlate in any meaningful way to the amount of pain that people deal with.  In another study run concurrently by Dr. Tom Driscoll of the University of Sydney (and published in the same journal), job-related Low Back Pain accounted for almost 30% of the DALY’s, with 62% of all DALY’s belonging to men.

  • HIP PAIN AND KNEE PAIN DUE TO DEGENERATIVE ARTHRITIS:  Out of the nearly 300 conditions observed, arthritic Hip Pain / Knee Pain ranked 11th.  DALY’s increased from 10.5 million to 17 million.  This came from a study published in the Feburary issue of the Brithsh Medical Journal, and concluded that, “It [is] highly likely that the real burden of Osteoarthritis has been underestimated. With the aging and increasing obesity of the world’s population, health professions need to prepare for a large increase in the demand for health services to treat hip and knee Osteoarthritis“.

  • RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS:  This study also came from last month’s issue of BMJAlthough Hoy’s group has the worldwide incidence of RA at approximately 1 in 400 people, according to the CDC, this is a far better rate than the US, which comes in at approximately 1 in 80.  DALY’s increased by about 1.5 million over the past two decades, ranking RA 42nd in global disability.  The study concluded that, “RA continues to cause modest global disability, with severe consequences in the individuals affected“.  Remember that RA is an AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE.

  • CHRONIC NECK PAIN:  This portion of the study was published in January’s edition of the Annals of Rheumatic Diseases.  DALY’s increased from 24 million to almost 34 million over the past 20 years.  It’s ranking was fourth, not far behind Low Back Pain.  The study concluded that more research is desperately needed to better understand how to diagnose, manage, and prevent this problem.
Back and neck pain can be severe and debilitating problems.  But for many of you there is hope.  HERE is a post I created on helping solve your own back pain.  And truthfully, most cases of Chronic Neck Pain are easier to deal with than are back pain.  It might be good for you to take a few minutes and watch some of our VIDEO TESTIMONIALS on the subject.   And as for the increase in ARTHRITIS, not only is it important to understand why this is occurring (HERE, HERE, and HERE), but to realize that you are not helpless in the matter (HERE), as there are plenty of things that you can do to help yourself with this issue as well.  You can sit back and wait for more EVIDENCE-BASED RESEARCH, or you can take the bull by the horns.  The choice is yours.  My next post will deal with the reasons that degenerative arthritic conditions are growing so rapidly.

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