Our aching backs put burden on health care

Our aching backs put burden on health care

A look at 30 years’ worth of health data tells us one thing in no uncertain terms: Our backs really hurt.

And modeling based on that data suggests that our creaky, aching backs are getting worse, with a 36% rise in back-pain cases expected in the next 30 years.

A global team of researchers who’ve been reviewing such cases say if something isn’t done, the number of people suffering from the malady may prove too much for health care systems to handle.

Australian researchers led the study, which was published in Lancet Rheumatology and is part of the Global Burden of Disease — a 30-year attempt by scientists from around the world to assess global health threats.

It seems appropriate that researchers from Down Under led the review. Australia is expected to see a whopping 50% increase in back-pain cases by 2050, although even bigger increases are predicted for Asia and Africa.

The study’s data spanned 1990 to 2020 and included more than 200 countries.

A couple of surprises: While many think of lower back pain as something that affects working-age adults, the study confirmed that it’s more common among older people. And lower back pain cases were more prevalent among women than men.

Now, if you would like to keep your back healthy and happy, do muscle-strengthening and stretching exercises at least twice a week. Stand and sit up straight. Take care when lifting heavy objects. Don’t smoke. And keep your weight in check.

So long as your back pain is of the chronic and not the shrieking-in-pain acute variety, movement is your best friend. It doesn’t need to be strenuous. Stand instead of sit. Walk instead of ride. Take the long route to the coffee pot.


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