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Best Pract Res Clin Rheumatol. 2013 Oct;27(5):575-89. doi: 10.1016/j.berh.2013.10.007. Epub 2013 Oct 12.

Placing the global burden of low back pain in context.

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Monash Department of Clinical Epidemiology, Cabrini Hospital, Suite 41, 183 Wattletree Rd, Malvern, VIC 3144, Australia; Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, VIC, Australia. Electronic address:


The latest Global Burden of Disease Study, published at the end of 2012, has highlighted the enormous global burden of low back pain. In contrast to the previous study, when it was ranked 105 out of 136 conditions, low back pain is now the leading cause of disability globally, ahead of 290 other conditions. It was estimated to be responsible for 58.2 million years lived with disability in 1990, increasing to 83 million in 2010. This chapter illustrates the ways that the Global Burden of Disease data can be displayed using the data visualisation tools specifically designed for this purpose. It also considers how best to increase the precision of future global burden of low back pain estimates by identifying limitations in the available data and priorities for further research. Finally, it discusses what should be done at a policy level to militate against the rising burden of this condition.


Burden of disease; Disability; Epidemiology; Low back pain; Prevalence

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