Back pain is very common; according to a survey published in 2000 almost half the adult population of the UK (49%) report low back pain lasting for at least 24 hours at some time in the year. (1)
It is estimated that four out of every five adults (80%) will experience back pain at some stage in their life. (1)
Although in most cases back pain is nothing serious and disappears spontaneously, the sheer number of people affected makes it a very costly condition imposing a considerable burden on the individual and society.
Simple measures can be taken to reduce the chances of developing back pain and thereby reducing the impact of existing back pain. Contact one of our practitioners to find out more.
In industrialised countries, up to 80% of the population will experience back pain at some stage in their life. During any one year, up to half of the adult population (15%-49%) will have back pain. (1, 3)
The number of people with back pain increases with advancing age, starting in school children and peaking in adults of 35 to 55 years of age. Back pain is just as common in adolescents as in adults. (3)
In most cases it is very difficult to identify a single cause for back pain. In about 85% of back pain sufferers no clear pathology can be identified. (4)
The following factors could contribute to back pain:
Back pain is, in most cases, a self-limiting condition and 90% of people with acute back pain will recover within 6 weeks. (4)
Up to 7% of people with acute back pain will develop chronic back pain. These chronic patients have considerable discomfort and account for approximately 80% of the social and health care costs. (4)
The National Health Service spends more than £1 billion per year on back pain related costs, this includes:
In the private healthcare sector £565 million is spent on back pain every year. (2)
This brings the healthcare costs for back pain to a total of £1.6 billion per year. (2)
In addition there are other (indirect) costs. The Health and Safety Executive estimates that musculoskeletal disorders, which include back pain cost UK employers between £590 million and £624 million per year. (8)
The total cost of back pain corresponds to between 1% and 2% of gross national product (GDP). (9)
Other European countries report similar high costs; back pain related costs in The Netherlands in 1991 were more than 4 billion euro. For Sweden in 1995 these were more than 2 billion euro. (10)
Back pain, in particular persistent back pain (i.e. <3 months), can have a significant impact on people’s lives. It frequently reduces their quality of life and adversely affects their family and social relationships. (7)
Nearly 5 million working days were lost as a result of back pain in 2003-04. This means that on any one day 1% of the working population are on sickness leave due to a back problem. (11)
Back pain is the number 2 reason for long term sickness in much of the UK. In manual labour jobs, back pain is the number one reason. (12)
Physical exercise can be a very effective method to reduce the pain and discomfort that long-term pain sufferers experience. (15)
Contact one of our practitioners for treatment advice and self-help information.
With thanks to BackCare.org.uk for the above Back Pain Facts and Figures.