Back pain costing the UK economy £20billion every year

Each year around a fifth of the population consult their GP about a musculoskeletal condition, which accounts for £5 billion of NHS spend and is the leading cause of working days lost.  Arthritis Research UK estimates its costs the economy £20 billion every year.

With an ageing and increasingly obese population, and rates of physical activity continuing to decrease, the number of people living with osteoarthritis and back pain will increase rapidly over the next 10 years.

Factors that can trigger pain in the lower back include working in awkward positions, being distracted, and being physically or mentally tired, a new study shows.

“Back pain is a major public health concern,” said Manuela Ferreira of The George Institute for Global Health at The University of Sydney, Australia, one of the study’s authors. “It’s among the leading causes of disability around the world.”

Overall, people were most likely to have sudden lower back pain in the morning.  Manual tasks involving awkward positions were tied to an eight-fold increase in risk for lower back pain, the researchers found.  Being distracted during a task or activity increased the risk of sudden lower back pain by 25 percent, they found. Being physically or mentally tired increased the risk about four times.

The new study can’t explain why certain things greatly increased the risk of back pain while others did not.  There are some theories, however. For example, people may be at higher risk of back pain in the morning because they may not be fully alert yet. Or, Ferreira said, the disks in the spine might be more susceptible to damage in the morning.

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