Back Pain the Facts

Back pain is a common condition, affecting a large proportion of the UK population every year

The main cause for working days lost in 2013 was musculoskeletal conditions (such as back and neck pain), leading to 31 million days lost.

About 8 out of 10 people will experience low back pain, and it is one of the most common reasons why middle aged people visit their GP. However, most people get better or manage without seeing a health care practitioner.


It is often impossible to find a precise cause for low back pain.

Whilst low back pain can be very uncomfortable, it is not usually serious.

Less than 1 in 100 people have a serious problem requiring medical help. This is referred to as

non-specific, mechanical or simple back pain.

Non-specific, or simple back pain, is likely to get better over a few weeks. With information and advice most back pain can be self-managed.

Acute low back pain is pain that lasts less than 6 weeks. Low Back Pain STarT Back Information leaflet.


Problems associated with back pain

Low back pain can cause many problems, including:

Impaired quality of life

Poor mobility

Higher risk of social exclusion through inability to work (and reduced income)

Depression and anxiety

Social isolation because of disability


About 7.6 million working days were lost due to work-related back pain and other musculoskeletal disorders from 2010 to 2011 according to NHS Choices


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