1 in 6 Aussies have chronic back problems

Peter Terlato 17 August 2016

Chronic back pain

And as a result, their quality of life is also poorer.

New research has revealed around 3.7 million Australians suffered chronic back conditions in 2014-15.

An Australian Institute for Health and Welfare (AIHW) report covering the impact of chronic back problems among Australians found around 9% of people with back problems perceived their health to be poor, compared with just over 4% of the general population in 2014-15.

The report defines chronic back problems as long-term (6 months or more) health conditions including disc disorders (such as a herniated disc or disc degeneration); sciatica and curvature of the spine; and pain not caused by another condition such as osteoporosis or osteoarthritis.

More than three quarters (78%) of people with chronic back problems are aged between 15-64.

Almost 7% of experience very high levels of psychological distress, while 4% endure severe bodily pain.

Around 1.2 million (28%) Australians with a disability also had chronic back pain problems and were more likely to report limitations and restrictions in mobility, self-care, employment and social activity.

Almost half (43%) of disabled Aussies with chronic back issues experienced mobility limitations, while more than a quarter (28%) endured limitations to self-care and over three quarters (77%) who were working found restrictions in terms of employment.

"People with back problems are around two times as likely to say they have poor health, high levels of psychological distress and severe bodily pain, compared with the general population," AIHW spokesperson Ann Hunt said.

Are you planning to travel but suffer chronic back problems or have a pre-existing back injury? Find out how you can get travel insurance and stay protected overseas.

Picture: Shutterstock

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