Back pain causing 3 million people to take time off work

An estimated three million people are taking long-term sick leave or say they are unable to work due to back pain according to research from Nuffield Health.

Up to six million people are also estimated to be living with undiagnosed back pain, which could be avoided or treated with advice, early treatment or exercise.

Two thirds of workers suffering from back pain feel that they are not supported in the workplace through lack of provision. Key areas pinpointed are advice on back pain prevention, work station assessments or encouragement to exercise. 49 percent of respondents also stated that they do not take short breaks at work to move around to alleviate or prevent injury and pain.

Out of 3322 people across the UK who took part in the survey, 36 percent said they suffer from lower back pain which affects their dally life.

Back pain is the UK’s leading cause of long-term sickness and was responsible for over 15 million sick days in 2013. The research also found that around 3.4 million people in the UK (15%) have been forced to take more than a month off work due to their symptoms.

The main contributing factors to back pain are sedentary lifestyles, a lack of access to treatment, diagnostics and poor guidance. Over half surveyed said they lead sedentary lifestyles however, once in pain this figure jumps to 74 percent who then resign themselves to sedentary lifestyles.

Young professionals aged 24-35, are putting themselves most at risk of back pain with 70 percent admitting they lead a sedentary lifestyle. This is followed by 18-24 year olds at 67 percent.

Dr Auldric Ratajczak, Nuffield Health Medical director, comments:

“In most cases it is a combination of factors which lead to pain, and symptoms can be hugely improved through the right exercise, physiotherapy and some simple lifestyle changes. Not only can early intervention help staff to get back to full health as quickly as possible, it can also reduce the amount of time employees are being forced to take off work as a result of their back pain and avoid triggering the stress and anxiety that can be caused as a result of the problem not being properly diagnosed. Reasonable adjustments can be made to working environments to ensure that people are as protected as they can be from back pain in the workplace.”

Click here to read six tips from Nuffield Health Doctors on how to alleviate or prevent back pain when at work.