A new study recently published in the specialized journal The Lancet Rheumatology warns that back pain is a new pandemic.Currently, low back pain affects 620 million people and, according to data, it is expected that during the next three decades, by the year 2050, it will affect almost 10% of the population. For that year, an increase of 36.4% is projected in cases of low back pain.
National Geographic explains that the study shows that older people are most at particular risk. The prevalence of low back pain increases with age and reaches its peak at the age of 85 years. The study was conducted at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington School of Medicine.
“From a health care perspective, clinical practice guidelines in most countries lack specific recommendations on how to care for an older person with low back pain. The elderly are the most vulnerable population to this condition”, explains the professor at the University of Sydney, Manuela Ferreira, lead author of the study.
According to the data, in 2020, back pain caused a total of 69 million years lived with disability -YLD, for its acronym in English- worldwide. The YLD is an indicator of years lived in less than ideal health. This is a measure that has been declining in percentage terms worldwide since the 1990s. However, when it comes to back pain, it has only increased, becoming the leading cause of disability worldwide. world.
What are the risk factors for low back pain?
According to National Geographic, among the main risk factors are obesity and occupational ergonomic factors. That is, the posture adopted, as well as the execution of repetitive and fast movements or the handling of heavy loads in the work environment.
Regarding the number of cases of low back pain, the analysis determined that this varies according to the geographical region, the causes and the age. Based on the data provided, taken locally, regionally and internationally between 1990 and 2020 in 204 different countries and territories, the nations with the highest age-specific rates of low back pain are Hungary and the Czech Republic. The countries with the lowest rates, Myanmar and Maldives.
Most of this increase will be driven by population growth, except in East and South Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. There it is expected that the reason will be an increase in life expectancy.
The execution of repetitive and fast movements or the handling of heavy loads in the work environment, factors that would be the direct cause of 40% of the cases of low back pain.
“The social and economic impact of low back pain is enormous. It implies both a decrease in the quality of life, a loss of productivity in the work environment and a dependence on pain-relieving drugs, ”explains Dr. Jaimie Steinmetz, managing research scientist at IHME.
“Our research shows the need for new and better public health prevention strategies, especially for the elderly. Additionally, for working-age populations, low back pain forces more people to leave their jobs than any other chronic health condition, so we hope the global data from our study can help policymakers and providers health care to develop or improve prevention strategies,” concluded Steinmetz.