North Carolina: Chronic low back pain on the rise, may be indicative of nationwide trend
Researchers from the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research at the University of North Carolina said they believe the increase may be indicative of a similar trend across the country.
According to the study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, the prevalence of chronic low back pain in the state increased from 3.9 percent in 1992 to 10.2 percent in 2006. Increases were seen in both men and women, and across all ages and racial and ethnic groups.
"Considering the social and economic costs of chronic low back pain, these findings are alarming," said Timothy S. Carey, coauthor of the study and director of the Sheps Center. "Low back pain is the second most common cause of disability in the United States and a common reason for missing work."
More than 80 percent of Americans will experience low back pain at some time in their lives the total costs of the condition are estimated at greater than $100 billion annually, with two-thirds of that due to decreased wages and productivity.
"Since the costs of back pain are rising, along with the number of cases, current treatments overall do not seem to be very effective," Carey said.
According to the study, the reasons for the increase in chronic low back pain are unclear although researchers said the possible causes include increasing rates of obesity, depression, and awareness of the condition. The authors noted that the changing nature of North Carolina's workforce -- with a decline in the percentage of manufacturing jobs and an increase in construction and service industry jobs -- may be another factor.
March 26, 2009
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