The number one workplace injury

According to a recent study published in the Annals of Rheumatic Diseases-a peer-reviewed medical journal that discusses topics relating to musculoskeletal, arthritic, and connective tissue conditions-lower back pain is the world's number one workplace injury. Unfortunately, study researchers indicate that it's not getting the attention it deserves.

The study

Study researchers came to this conclusion after reviewing information from 47 different countries and 117 different studies. They deduced that worldwide, one in 10 workers suffer from chronic lower back pain. Researchers determined that the highest number of workers with back pain were located in Western Europe and the lowest number in the Caribbean and Latin American countries.

Lower back pain certainly prevents individuals from working, but researchers also conclude that the lifespan of many sufferers is shortened as a result of the condition.

Reasons for the statistic

They conclude that a lack of manual activity in many job fields is a culprit behind lower back injuries in the workplace. And this is no surprise; workers perform many jobs today by sitting in front of a computer.

Many often sit for longer periods of time in desk chairs not meant for such prolonged sitting. Others may sit with poor posture, albeit without realizing it, which also could contribute to injuries in the lower back.

Difficulty treating lower back pain

There are many different treatment options available to individuals who suffer from lower back pain. Pain killers, physical therapy, heat and ice, acupuncture, and surgery are among the long list.

However, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, exercise may actually be the most beneficial treatment for lower back pain. Walking, swimming, and yoga, combined with stretching, are all advised.

The NINDS indicates that, "Maintaining and building muscle strength is particularly important for persons with skeletal irregularities."

Lack of attention

Given the prevalence of the condition, study authors seem perplexed as to why more attention is not given to the condition and why prevention methods are not openly discussed.

"Governments, health service and research providers and donors need to pay far greater attention to the burden that low back pain causes than what they had done previously," the authors write.

Employers also need to do their part to make sure employees who sit at a computer all day are provided adequate desk chairs and other necessary equipment to prevent workplace back injuries.

According to the NINDS, roughly $50 billion is spent every year treating lower back injuries in the United States alone.