An Australian study released on Tuesday showed that by 2050, 843 million people across the world could be affected by back pain.
According to the study published in the Lancet Rheumatology journal, an analysis of over 30 years of data indicates a significant growth in cases of back pain internationally, with more than half a million people suffering from the condition in 2017. In 2020, there were approximately 619 million cases of back pain.
The study analyzed data from 1990 to 2020 from over 204 countries and regions to map the landscape of back pain cases over time.
At least one-third of the disability burden associated with back pain was attributable to occupational factors, smoking, and being overweight.
Data also revealed that Australia will see a 50 percent increase in cases by 2050, whilst the most significant increase in cases will occur in Asia and Africa.
“Our analysis paints a picture of growing low back pain cases globally, putting enormous pressure on our healthcare system. We need to establish a national, consistent approach to managing low back pain that is informed by research,” said Manuela Ferreira, lead author of the study and professor from Sydney Musculoskeletal Health, an initiative of the University of Sydney, Sydney Local Health District, and Northern Sydney Local Health District.
Katie de Luca, co-author of the study and senior lecturer from Central Queensland University, said that if the right action is not taken, low back pain can become a precursor to chronic health conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and mental health conditions, invasive medical procedures, and significant disability.
“Low back pain continues to be the greatest cause of disability burden worldwide. There are substantial socio-economic consequences of this condition, and the physical and personal impact directly threatens healthy aging,” she added.