Back pain biggest global source of disability

Lower back pain causes more disability around the world than any other single condition, and accounts for a third of work-related handicaps, a specialist journal reported on Monday.

Nearly a tenth -- 9.4 per cent -- of the world's population has lower back pain, with the prevalence highest in Western Europe, followed by North Africa and the Middle East, and the lowest in the Caribbean and Latin America, a study found. The figure includes children.

Lower back pain also accounts for a third of all work-related disability, according to another investigation.

People aged between 35 and 65 are most at risk, especially farmworkers, which had a fourfold higher probability of lower back pain compared with workers in other sectors.

The data comes from a massive 2010 overview called the Global Burden of Disease, which looked at ill health in 187 countries.

The studies appear in Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, published by the British Medical Association (MBA).