Low Back Pain

Widespread condition

Low back pain is a very common disorder affecting 80 per cent of people at some point in their lives. It is defined as pain or discomfort localised in the lower portion of the back and the spinal column, with or without radiation to the lower extremities. Depending on its duration and severity, low back pain can considerably impair patients’ quality of life and work performance. It is one of the leading causes for sick leave and the second most common reason for visiting a physician.1

Like other chronic pain conditions, low back pain is a very complex disorder. Common physical causes include diseases or injuries to the muscles, bones and/or nerves of the spine. However, only in fewer than 20 per cent of cases can low back pain be attributed to a clear cause.2 Therefore a comprehensive and thorough assessment and diagnosis is essential for providing appropriate treatment


1 The Bone & Joint Decade: Annual Report, 2009. Accessible at http://www.boneandjointdecade.org/HTML/musconline/images/BJD%20Annual%20Report%202009.pdf, last accessed on February 25, 2011
2 Ehrlich G: Low back pain. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 2003; 81:9. Accessible at http://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/81/9/Ehrlich.pdf, last accessed on February 25, 2011