Low Back Pain

Published on 5 March 2024 at 00:30

Low back pain (LBP) is a highly prevalent condition associated with significant disability and work absenteeism worldwide.        Back pain is never caused by just one problem, it is quite a complex issue with many factors playing a role.


According to WHO and The Spine Journal risk factors of LBP are: 

  • age - the risk of LBP increases as we get older
  • poor general health caused by lifestyle - smoking, obesity, low physical activity levels, poor sleep patterns are all risk factors
  • physical stress on the spine (e.g. vibrations)
  • psychological stress (e.g. depression).


Did you know, that statistically every 3rd adult suffers from lower back pain at least once in their life? 30 to 70 years olds are mostly affected, and the prevalence increases with age (up to 80 years).

Lower part of the spine consists of 5 lumbar vertebraes, sacral bone (os sacrum) and tail bone (os cocygum).
Lumbar part of the spine is built for carrying our upper body, but is also connected by
muscles, nerves and fascia to the hips, knees and also to internal organs.

There is a possibility that low back pain can be caused by bulging of the vertebral disc, but did you know, that 30% of bulging discs are asymptomatic?

The spine does not like to stay in one position for a long time, so sitting or standing for prolonged periods of time is very tiring for the back. One recommendation is to change your sitting position frequently. It is suggested that at least once every 30 minutes you should stand up and stretch your muscles by walking, swinging your arms or just stretching your back. There are lots of techniques for stretching your back to chose from and whilst it might be overwhelming to chose one, it is always better to do any gentle exercise than nothing at all.

Few interesting points:

  • Disc prolapse or bulging is not irreversible; it can actually heal over time (the bigger the bulging the bigger possibility, that it will heal)
  • The degree of disc displacement on MRI does not correlate with any subjective symptoms
  • symptoms of "slipped disc" can often self-resolve

1. GBD 2021 Low Back Pain Collaborators. Global, regional, and national burden of low back pain, 1990-2020, its attributable risk factors, and projections to 2050: a systematic analysis of the Global Burden of Disease Study 2021. Lancet Rheumatol 2023: 5: e316-29.

2. GBD 2019: Global burden of 369 diseases and injuries in 204 countries and territories, 1990– 2019: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2019. https://vizhub.healthdata.org/gbd-results/.
3. Parreira P, Maher CG, Steffens D, Hancock MJ, Ferreira ML. Risk factors for low back pain and sciatica: an umbrella review. Spine J. 2018 Sep;18(9):1715-1721. doi: 10.1016/ j.spinee.2018.05.018. Epub 2018 May 21. PMID: 29792997.

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