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Lower Back Pain is The Most Common Reason for Disability in the World

Update Date: Dec 14, 2012 01:42 PM EST

A new study suggests that low back pain is the most common reason behind disability in the world.

The international study published by The Lancet in the latest Global Burden of Disease Study reveals that lower back pain and osteoarthritis rank second to cancer as a leading cause of disease burden in Australasia, Medical Xpress reports.

Lead author of the study Professor Buchbinder from Monash University's Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine and the Cabrini Institute said that the study has revealed the extent of the global burden of low back pain, which was previously underestimated.

"Our study shows that lower back pain and osteoarthritis are now ranked second only to cancer as the leading cause of disease burden in Australasia," Professor Buchbinder said.

"With ageing populations, it is highly likely this burden will increase, suggesting the health and research priorities that governments and others give to low back pain should be increased. Research is urgently needed to develop effective prevention and treatment strategies with the potential benefits of public health interventions likely to be substantial," he added.

The study included research from 47 countries, identifying 116 studies measuring the prevalence of lower back pain worldwide. The researchers found that lower back pain was more prevalent among women and was at its peak in adolescence and again at age 65.

The findings of the study also revealed that in Australasia, musculoskeletal conditions account for 15 percent of the total burden of death and disability, only a little less than cancer at 16.2 percent, followed by heart disease, mental health and substance abuse at around 13 percent, the report said.

"These are all important health issues and recognised as national health priorities by the Australian government but to date musculoskeletal conditions have not received an equitable level of priority," Professor Buchbinder said.

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