View other formats
Back problems are a range of conditions related to the bones, joints, connective tissue, muscles and nerves of the back. Back problems are a significant cause of disability and lost productivity.
4 in 5 people with disability and back problems had difficulty with mobility, communication or self-care in 2012
3rd leading cause of disease burden in Australia in 2011
1 in 6 Australians (16%) reported back problems in 2014–15. That’s 3.7 million people
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. Comorbidities often share common risk factors, and are increasingly seen as acting together to determine the health status of individuals.
As people age, they are more likely to develop more than one chronic condition. Various studies show that cardiovascular diseases [1,2] arthritis , mental health problems [4,5] and respiratory conditions  are common comorbidities with back problems.
Compared with people without chronic low back pain, people with chronic low back pain make greater use of pain-related medications and health care resources .
Pain is the main symptom of most back problems and treatment can be complex. This can be complicated by the existence of other comorbidities. As pain treatment is given at the same time as other treatments, serious drug interactions can be an issue .
Some general treatment strategies for chronic diseases can benefit people with back problems. For example, lifestyle modifications such as diet, exercise, weight control, and reducing smoking have been shown to be beneficial .
We'd love to know any feedback that you have about the AIHW website, its contents or reports.