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Low Back Pain Leading Cause of Disability Globally

Low Back Pain Leading Cause of Disability Globally

The Lancet recently published a series of articles on low back pain, with the authors featuring many of the leading experts on this topic. They essentially declare that low back pain is actually getting worse throughout the world, and that it has now become the leading cause of disability globally. So what are some of the collective insights on low back pain?

  • Low back pain is a normal part of being a human and occurs in most people at some time or another in their life
  • Most of the time back pain occurs, it does not last long
  • However, recurrence of back pain is common
  • Low back pain should be viewed as a physical problem that can be heavily influenced by psychological and sociological factors
  • Lifestyle factors such as obesity, smoking, lack of physical activity influence the occurrence of low back pain

While almost everyone experiences low back pain in his or her lives, not everyone becomes disabled by it. So how can this problem be addressed? If you develop low back pain, what guidelines can you follow to reduce your risk of becoming disabled?

According to the experts:

  1. Go to a primary care provider first if you need help with your low back pain. This includes primary care physicians, physical therapists, chiropractors, physician assistants and nurse practitioners.
  2. If you develop low back pain, it is best to remain active and continue working if you are physically capable of it.
  3. Imaging is usually unnecessary and does not help to resolve the problem. Imaging should be performed only when a specific pathological condition is suspected.
  4. The first option for therapy should be nonpharmacological or something other than drugs. (Like treatments provided by physical therapists)
  5. Opioid drugs in particular should be avoided.

In summary, if you develop low back pain and cannot resolve it on your own, the next best step is to see a primary care provider. Keep moving and avoid drugs when possible. Remember that you can see your physical therapist without a medical referral in New York State.

Marcia Spoto PT, DC, OCS

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