BACK CARE GUIDE IN ASSOCIATION WITH BACKCARE.ORG
Back pain affects most of us:
According to a survey(1) published in 2000 almost half the adult population of
the U.K. (49%) report low back pain lasting for at least 24 hours at some time
during the year.
In a similar survey carried out 10 years earlier(2) just over one third of the
population complained of such back pain.
In 1998(3) almost one in five adults (18%) experienced low back pain for the first
time. It is estimated(4) that up to four out of five people (80%) will experience
back pain lasting more than a day at some time during their life.
How long does it last?
In 1998 in over half of those people who reported back pain the episode lasted
for over 4 weeks - affecting 8 million(3) people and in the case of 2.5 million of
these the back pain lasted throughout the year.
Young people are more likely to have brief acute episodes of back pain while
chronic pain is more characteristic of older people. There is little difference
in the occurrence in men and women.
Risk factors for low back pain
• Back pain is spread fairly evenly across the community
in terms of age, sex and geography but occupation
makes a difference. Over 1 million people have back
pain or upper limb disorders.(10)
• Reported back pain is most common in those with
skilled manual, partly skilled and unskilled jobs.(3)
• Some occupations can cause back problems without
involving injury. Among these are:
• driving a motor vehicle. People who drive over 25,000
miles a year averaged just over 22 days a year off
work with a bad back, compared with just over 3 days
for low mileage drivers.(11)
• driving a train. Train drivers are twice as likely as HGV drivers to report low back pain.(12)
• work involving intensive use of the telephone without
headsets. 50% of office workers who use a telephone
for at least two hours a day and also use a computer
report neck pain and 31% lower back pain(13)
• being a supermarket cashier - 57% experience lower
back pain in a year.(14)
Chronic low back pain is often associated with psychological
and social factors - often referred to as 'Yellow flags'.
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