More than 540 million people suffer low back pain, the commonest cause of disability in the world. But their condition is often being made worse by costly high-tech interventions and bed rest in what could amount to medical negligence on a global scale.
Large numbers of sufferers across the world are being harmed not healed by invasive surgery, injections and opiates, according to new details published by the Lancet. Prevention is better than cure and what is really needed is better awareness of the dangers of poor posture along with exercise, experts say.
Lower back pain is a significant challenge for patients, health providers and economies across the globe. Each year, almost 1m years of productive life are lost in the United Kingdom due to disability from low back pain, 3m in the US and 300,000 in Australia.
In the UK, the National Health Service has guidance for doctors on non-specific lower back pain that promotes physical exercise and recommends against surgery. However in the US, operations are very common, setting a poor example to the rest of the world. This is a huge problem as there are many high tech, expensive treatments, many of which simply aren't proven to be any benefit.