Back problems, associated comorbidities and risk factors

People with back problems often have other chronic diseases and long-term conditions. These are referred to as 'comorbidities'—two or more health problems occurring at the same time.

In this context, 'back problems' include:

  • Disc disorders (such as a herniated disc or disc degeneration)
  • Sciatica and curvature of the spine, and
  • Back pain/problems not elsewhere classified

Note: if back problems are caused by another condition such as osteoporosis or osteoarthritis they will be classified as that condition and not included here. As such, the true prevalence of back problems presented here may be an underestimate.

The comorbid chronic conditions selected for this analysis include arthritis, cardiovascular disease, mental health problems, asthma, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and cancer. These chronic conditions were selected because they occur frequently in the population.

The risk factors are smoking, physical inactivity, and overweight and obesity.

This information is based on self-reported data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2014–15 National Health Survey (NHS), and was last updated in June 2016.