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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.
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
4 in 5 people with disability and back problems had difficulty with mobility, communication or self-care in 2012
About 3.7 million Australians (16% of the total population) have back problems, based on self-reported data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2014–15 National Health Survey.
Back problems are more common among those aged 65–79, affecting 28% of men and 26% of women in this age group. They are least common among people from birth to age 15. The prevalence of back problems for males and females is similar.
Back problems reported on these webpages includes:
Note, back problems that are caused by another condition, such as osteoporosis or osteoarthritis, are not included. For this reason, the total prevalence of back problems is likely to be underestimated.
Source: AIHW analysis of ABS Microdata: National Health Survey, 2014–15 (Data table).
According to the ABS 2012–13 Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey (AATSIHS), Indigenous people were 1.2 times as likely to report having back problems as total Australians.
Note: Rates are age-standardised to the Australian population as at 30 June 2001.
Source: AIHW analysis of ABS Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey (unpublished), 2012–13 (Data table).
Based on the 2014–15 National Health Survey, the prevalence of back problems is similar between in Major cities (15.5%) compared to Inner regional (16.2%) and Outer regional and remote (15.7%) areas.
The prevalence of back problems is higher for areas of lowest socioeconomic status (17.7%) compared to areas of highest socioeconomic status (15.5%), although the difference is not significant.
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