Low back pain accounts for one-third of work-related disabilities

Low back pain linked to workplace factors accounted for one-third of all work-related disabilities, according to recently published study results.

Researchers determined estimates of relative risk from a meta-analysis of relevant published literature, as part of the Global Burden of Disease 2010 study. Work-related burden was estimated as disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) in each of 21 world regions and 187 countries separately for 1990 and 2010.

In 2010, low back pain arising from ergonomic exposures at work was estimated to cause 21.7 million DALYs, study results showed. Relevant factors linked to low back pain were jobs involving lifting, forceful movement, awkward positions and vibration.

Sixty-two percent of low back pain DALYs were in males, while the largest numbers occurred among individuals aged 35 years to 55 years. The highest relative risk was the agricultural sector, with the largest number of DALYs occurring in East Asia and South Asia, according to study results. Between 1990 and 2010, study results showed a 22% increase in overall low back pain DALYs arising from occupational exposures due to population growth; however, rates dropped by 14% over the same period as employment in high risk occupations fell.

For more information:

Driscoll T. Ann Rheum Dis. 2014;doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2013-204631.

Disclosure: The researchers have no relevant financial disclosures.

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