Do you know that lower back pain is the fourth highest cause of disability in India!
Do you know that lower back pain is the fourth highest cause of disability in India! Shocked? According to a Lancet series published online, ‘Low back pain is the leading worldwide cause of years lost to disability and its burden is growing alongside the increasing and ageing population.’ The report states that that lower back pain can affect anyone at any age, and it is increasing and disability due to back pain has risen by more than 50% since 1990. It is becoming a global problem and is affecting high-income, middle-income, and low-income countries and all age groups from children to the elderly population. People with physically demanding jobs, physical and mental comorbidities, smokers, and obese individuals are at greatest risk of reporting low back pain.
Prof Rachelle Buchbinder, Monash University, Australia is the author of the Lancet Low Back Pain Series and she is also the chairperson of the working group steering committee for the series. As quoted in an Indian Express report, Buchbinder said that in terms of burden of low back and neck pain in India — it accounts for almost 7% of years lived with disability. She added that it is the 4th highest cause of disability in India. She added that iron-deficiency anaemia, migraine and other musculoskeletal conditions (that include everything other than osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis) are the top three causes of disability in India.
The recently published Lancet series highest the extent to which the treatment is untreated by doctors. It adds that the treatment is often against the prescribed guidelines. According to evidence, low back pain should be treated in primary care, with the first line of treatment being education and advice to keep active and at work. While talking about the the number of people who suffer from lower back pain, Buchbinder said, “However, in reality, a high proportion of patients worldwide are treated in emergency departments, encouraged to rest and stop work, are commonly referred for scans or surgery or prescribed painkillers including opioids, which are discouraged for treating low back pain.”
Here are some effective ways to treat lower back pain listed in the Lancet series:
The report states that many medical guidelines for lower back pain recommend similar approaches for the assessment and management of low back pain. While recommendations include use of a biopsychosocial framework to guide management with initial non-pharmacological treatment, including education that supports self-management and resumption of normal activities and exercise, and psychological programmes for those with persistent symptoms.
The Guidelines for the same recommend the prudent use of medication, imaging, and surgery. The treatment varies widely around the world, from bed rest, mainly in LMICs, to surgery and the use of dangerous drugs such as opioids, usually in high-income countries.
The potential solutions include focused strategies to implement best practice, the redesign of clinical pathways, integrated health and occupational interventions to reduce work disability, changes in compensation and disability claims policies, and public health and prevention strategies, according to the Lancet report.