By Dr. Scott Colasanti
Back pain may seem like a benign problem that for many of us comes and goes and presents itself as not much more than a nuisance. However, the many of us that suffer from more severe, debilitating back pain would surely disagree. In fact, it may surprise you that the overall global health burden that back pain or musculoskeletal pain in general presents.
The Global Burden of Disease Project is a massive collaborative research initiative spearheaded by the World Health Organization that provides a comprehensive assessment of mortality and loss of health due to diseases, injuries and risk factors for all regions of the world.
Recent findings show that there has been a significant shift in the past 20 to 30 years towards more people suffering from disability. It is true that we are living longer, but as a result more of us are suffering from pain, disability and disease.
Musculoskeletal conditions such as low back pain, neck pain and arthritis affect more than 1.7 billion people worldwide. Current estimates suggest that 632,045 million people worldwide suffer from low back pain and 332.049 million people worldwide suffer from neck pain. Lower back pain accounts for over half of all musculoskeletal conditions putting it at the top the charts as the number one cause of disability worldwide. Neck pain is the fourth leading cause of disability; this has an even greater impact on the health of the world population than HIV/AIDS, catastrophic events, and neurological conditions combined.
An awareness of the global impact of musculoskeletal pain becomes important, hopefully creating more awareness about a serious problem, which in many cases can be prevented. Essentially, we can use this information as a window to the future, and we can take measures that will help prevent us from becoming those statistics. The important thing to remember here is that as with many or most other health problems, being proactive is the key to prevention. Making good lifestyle choices about diet, exercise, and stress reduction is paramount.