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Eur Spine J. 2018 Sep;27(Suppl 6):796-801. doi: 10.1007/s00586-017-5432-9. Epub 2018 Feb 26.

The Global Spine Care Initiative: a summary of the global burden of low back and neck pain studies.

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Office of Public Health Studies, University of Hawai`i, Mānoa, Honolulu, HI, USA.
Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Ontario Institute of Technology, Oshawa, Canada.
UOIT-CMCC Centre for Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation, Toronto, Canada.
Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, USA.
Department of Neurology, University of California, Irvine, CA, USA.
World Spine Care, Santa Ana, CA, USA.



This article summarizes relevant findings related to low back and neck pain from the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) reports for the purpose of informing the Global Spine Care Initiative.


We reviewed and summarized back and neck pain burden data from two studies that were published in Lancet in 2016, namely: "Global, regional, and national incidence, prevalence, and years lived with disability for 310 diseases and injuries, 1990-2015: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2015" and "Global, regional, and national disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) for 315 diseases and injuries and healthy life expectancy (HALE), 1990-2015: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2015."


In 2015, low back and neck pain were ranked the fourth leading cause of disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) globally just after ischemic heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, and lower respiratory infection {low back and neck pain DALYs [thousands]: 94 941.5 [95% uncertainty interval (UI) 67 745.5-128 118.6]}. In 2015, over half a billion people worldwide had low back pain and more than a third of a billion had neck pain of more than 3 months duration. Low back and neck pain are the leading causes of years lived with disability in most countries and age groups.


Low back and neck pain prevalence and disability have increased markedly over the past 25 years and will likely increase further with population aging. Spinal disorders should be prioritized for research funding given the huge and growing global burden. These slides can be retrieved under Electronic Supplementary Material.


Back pain; Global burden of disease; Neck pain; Spine


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