4 out of 5 adults will suffer back pain at some point in their life

Nadhim ZahawiNadhim Zahawi

Nadhim Zahawi: quote after visiting BHB Fitness, and discussing the problems relating to Lower Back Issues

“I really enjoyed visiting Helen’s business and finding out more about back pain, which affects so many of my constituents; I was shocked to find out that up to 80% experience back pain at some point during their lives.

It’s so important to raise awareness of this issue, especially when you consider the £1bn of public money required for health services to cope with treating back pain, and the 3.7 million work days that are lost as a result – making it the second most common cause of workplace absence.

Some easy steps can be taken to reduce the problem including trying to remain active and not resting too long in one position, and I commend the excellent work Helen is doing to get the message out there.”


4 out of 5 adults will suffer back pain at some point in their life

Low back pain defined as pain, muscle tension or stiffness localised below the costal margin and above the inferior gluteal folds with or without leg pain (called sciatica) and is classified as acute when it persists for less than 12 weeks.

Non specific low back pain is low back pain not attributed to a recognisable pathology such as infection, tumour, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, fracture or inflammation.

Back pain is very common condition and between 4.4% and 33% of the UK adult population suffers.
Half the UK adult population (49%) report low back pain for at least 24 hours at some point in the course of a year and estimated 4 out of 5 adults will suffer back pain at some point in their life.

In industrialised countries up to 80% of the population will experience back pain at some stage in their life.

90% of those with low back pain in primary care stop consulting health care practitioners within three months however most will still be suffering low back pain and related disability one year after consultation.

Most cases of back pain are non specific and cannot be attributed to any serious pathology.  Up to 7% of individuals with acute back pain will develop chronic back pain which accounts for 80% of social and health care costs.

Back pain has a significant impact on physiological and psychological health.  More than £1 billion of public money is spend by the health service each year on costs relating to back pain and a further £565 million in private health care.  £141 million is spent each year on GP consultations for back pain and £512 million for hospital care and an estimated £150.6 million on physiotherapy treatments.

3.7 million working days were lost as a result of back pain which makes back pain the second most important reason for work absence.

The total cost of back pain corresponds to 1-2% of GDP.

Some of the current guidelines for low back pain:

Nothing to worry about, back ache is very common
Avoid too much rest
Stay as active as possible and continue normal daily activities
If working stay at work or return to work as soon as possible
Hurting does not mean harm
Not usually due to any serious disease,
Settles quickly, at least enough for you to get on with your normal life
Need not cripple you unless you let it
Your spine is one of the strongest parts of your body
Be positive stay active, you will get better quicker and have less trouble later

Needless to say the comments about staying active, and do not rest too much are significant.  Many people get the issue due to poor posture, sitting far too long in one position, sedendary lifestyles etc.

Regular exercise using the correct muscles helps enormously both prevent low back pain and manage it once it is present.