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Back pain cases to rise sharply

A new study by researchers at the Kolling Institute estimates more than 800 million people will be living with low back pain by 2050, a 36 percent increase from 2020. The prediction follows an analysis of 30 years of global health data from over 200 countries. 

Modelling shows the number of back pain cases globally will rise to 843 million people by 2050, while in Australia, it’s expected there will be a 50 percent increase. The biggest jump is likely to be seen in Asia and Africa.  

Researchers are concerned the trend will only get worse with an inconsistent approach to back pain treatment. They say many commonly recommended treatments have been found to be ineffective, including some surgeries and opioids. 

Researchers say there’s also a misconception that low back pain mostly affects adults of working age. This study shows that most low back pain cases affect older people, and more women than men. 

Kolling Institute researcher and lead author Professor Manuela Ferreira said the analysis paints a picture of growing low back pain cases globally, putting enormous pressure on our healthcare system. 

We need to establish a national, consistent approach to managing low back pain that is informed by research
Kolling Institute researcher and lead author Professor Manuela Ferreira

“Currently, how we have been responding to back pain has been reactive. Australia is a global leader in back pain research, so we can be proactive and lead by example on back pain prevention.” 

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