From The Ergoweb® Learning Center

Back Pain Sources Differ for Men and Women

Where does back pain come from? According to a recent survey, men tend to believe their back pain is work-related while women think their back pain originates in the home.

Over half of the doctors surveyed in the recent Survey of Physicians About Sufferers of Musculoskeletal Pain (SPASM) indicated that their male patients believe work is the primary cause of their back pain, while over a third of the doctors said female patients reported household duties as the cause. Men were also said to complain of sports- and exercise-related back pain more often than women did. In the instances where both sexes reported sports as the origin of their back pain, men blamed weight lifting, golf, basketball and football, in that order, while women tended to accuse running, tennis and finally weight lifting.

The SPASM survey quizzed 200 primary care physicians on current reporting and treatment trends of back pain among their patients. It is estimated that 80 percent of all people will report back pain at some point in their lifetime.

A study published in the January 2004 issue of Spine found that back pain cost over $90 billion to treat in the United States in 1998, with $26.3 billion of that going towards back pain-specific treatment. At the time of publication, the study’s authors admitted that their figures were likely to be “conservative.”

While the costs associated with back pain are high, according to the doctors in the SPASM survey, pain itself shouldn’t cause the patient to give up activities. One of the best ways of treating back pain, said physicians in the survey, is returning a person with back pain to activity as soon as possible. While nearly three-quarters of the physicians surveyed said that back pain caused their patients to miss activities including work, 83 percent of the physicians agreed that their patients should remain active while being treated. In the workplace, that equates to a call for strong return-to-work programs that incorporate ergonomics concepts like workplace modifications, tools or even modified work schedules and duties, to help a worker return to a productive state as soon as practical following an injury.

Source: PR Newswire; The Ergonomics Report; Ergonomics Today