Low back pain is a leading cause of disability worldwide. [1,2] The 2010 Global Burden of Disease Study estimated that low back pain is among the top 10 diseases and injuries. [3] If you’ve got low, back pain you’re not alone.

Woman bends over and flinches in pain in her back.

Dr. Andrew Arnold reports, approximately 75-90% of the population present with low back pain, with 67% presenting with neck pain. [3]

A ‘back problem’ may relate to…[7]

  • pain related to injury or a condition.
  • tingling, numbness and / or weakness effecting the legs that originates from the low back.
  • physical changes with the spinal canal where the spinal cord passes.
  • osteo-arthritic degeneration of the spine related to ‘wear and tear’ on the spinal joints.
  • spinal nerve pressure.
  • stiffness and muscle tension related to spinal disc degeneration.

Pain is by far, the most common presentation in low back pain cases.

It is purported to be the most common reason for pain among young and middle-aged adults. [8].

Some research has indicated a 14% incidence of constant pain associated with chronic, long-term low back problems and 86% reporting pain at least one day per week. [9]

Over a billion sufferer low back pain worldwide.

To put this in perspective, low back pain is greater than heart disease, asthma, diabetes, mental problems, and orthopedic conditions to name a few!

In 3rd world countries such as Botswana or the Dominican Republic, chronic low back pain directly interferes with basic survival. These people are unable to fulfil basic needs like getting food, because of low back pain. [4] Spinal disorders in these countries place a great burden on individuals and communities in most rural places of the developing world. [5,6]

‘Estimates from the Australian Bureau of Statistics 2017–18 National Health estimate about 4.0 million Australians (16% of the population) have back problems. It is estimated that 70–90% of people will suffer from lower back pain in some form at some point in their lives. Pain is the main symptom in most back problems’. [7]

Our private health funds, work cover, TAC and DVA insurers are over-burdened supporting a population with chronic low back pain.

So what’s the solution?

In my experience and view, and in the opinion of our health researchers, good lifestyle choice is #1. This means getting active, eating right, rest and relaxation…it’s about balance and taking care of yourself.

Getting the right professional support  certainly follows.

Research supports a ‘patient center’ model [10] whereby you, the patient are at the center of your health management plan. This means you are educated and well informed about health options tailored for you. customized exercise plans; dietary guidelines; supplements; exercise and posture aids; ergonomic modifications; workplace, health and safety support etc.

There are many ‘back-related’ or musculo-skeletal focused therapies available. These include Chiropractic, Physiotherapy, Osteopathy, Myotherapy, Massage, Acupuncture…to name a few.

It can be confusing knowing where to start however, I recommend talking to friends and family in relation to their practitioner and modality of choice and starting there. A good health practitioner will assist you with an appropriate referral if necessary.

Your practitioner should provide you with all the necessary information to make an informed choice. The question you need to ask is not, “what do I need to stop doing” but rather “what do I need to do to help me participate fully in what I want to do”.

Don’t leave it too late. If you are experiencing symptoms do not delay seeking treatment.


[1] https://bmcmusculoskeletdisord.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12891-019-2594-0

[2] Hoy D, March L, Brooks P, Blyth F, Woolf A, Bain C, Williams G, Smith E, Vos T, Barendregt J, Murray C, et al. The global burden of low back pain: estimates from the global burden of disease 2010 study. Ann Rheum Dis. 2014;73:968–74 D.

[3] https://www.who.int/medicines/areas/priority_medicines/Ch6_24LBP.pdf

[4] https://www.worldspinecare.org/

[5] https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00586-017-5393-z

[6] https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00586-017-5432-9

[7] https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/chronic-musculoskeletal-conditions/back-problems/contents/what-are-back-problems

[8] Manek NJ & MacGregor AJ 2005. Epidemiology of back disorders: prevalence, risk factors, and prognosis. Current Opinion in Rheumatology 17:134–140.

[9] Quittan M 2002. Management of back pain. Disability and Rehabilitation 24:423–434.

[10] https://www.oneviewhealthcare.com/the-eight-principles-of-patient-centered-care/

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About the Author:

Dr. Andrew Arnold is the senior Chiropractor and practice owner, Cranbourne Family Chiropractic and Wellness Centre 

Andrew is married to Dr. Linda Wilson and has two children, Isaac and Bella. He lives in Melbourne, Australia.

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