So, what is it about back pain?


And everybody knows somebody that regularly suffers from it.


Over 31 million days are lost from back pain every year.

The annual direct and indirect cost to the UK economy is £12.2 billion.

Just think what the NHS could do with all that cash!

Yet, nobody seems to care that much.

Back pain has recently been toppled as THE No 1 excuse for taking a sickie, simply because it so difficult to disprove.

Can you tell a back-acher from a back faker?

Having got away with it once, they will keep on doing it, as an individuals' history of back pain is the history of back  pain recurrence, often in exactly the same place.

A sickie note for life.

It has been replaced by Stress - the No 1 cause of low back pain - because stress causes muscular tension, which leads to back pain.

Bosses don't like you taking time off for stress as they feel you ought to be able to handle stress - but if it leads to back pain - hey - you're onto a winner.

When was the last time you went to see your psychologist for back pain?

It is also the leading medical condition - if that's what you can call it  -  for cartooonists, who have a field day at the expense of back painers or back fakers, in almost every country around the world.


Nortin Hadler writes in his research paper Socio-Economics of Back Pain - "Regional back pain intrudes into the life of healthy working age people for no particular reason. It is painful, noxious and trying. Regardless of the degree to which it hurts or overwhelms, regional back pain is normal. It is an obligate, frequent, intermittent and remittent predicament of life. It is no more abnormal than cold symptoms, headache, heartache, heartburn, and many other common conditions. Regional back pain has, however, come to hold a special place in the fabric of morbidity; it supports an attributional narrative. No one can blithely describe a headache as ‘I injured my head’. Neither would it be sensible to denote angina as stair-climber’s chest. However, everyone is comfortable with the narrative beginning, ‘I injured my back...’ Every physician is inclined to query what the patient was doing when the back pain started, and every sufferer is comfortable searching for an external cause for the pain".


Hitting the nail on the head - I think that's called - brilliant!

Chris Smyth of The Times reports that millions of patients with back pain are being given pointless drugs, surgery and injections, with a third prescribed dangerous opioids, experts say.


Doctors prefer to offer useless and often harmful treatments rather than tell patients there is nothing to be done except stay active, an international group of scientists has found.


Exercise and psychological therapy are the only things that work for most cases of chronic back pain but too many people wrongly believe the myth that rest is best for the condition, they add.


Back pain is the world’s leading cause of disability, with up to nine million estimated to suffer from it in Britain and half a billion worldwide, but a series in The Lancet says that it is routinely badly treated.


NHS guidelines recommend mainly exercise and therapy but Martin Underwood of the University of Warwick, one of the series’ authors, says they are often ignored. “In this country it affects a huge number of people,” he said. “It’s something that we’re not very well equipped to deal with. Patients understandably look for solutions and a cure but the reality is we don’t have a cure. We don’t understand what causes the vast majority of back pain.”


Steroid injections are increasing, as are scans that often lead to surgery, a fifth of which actually makes the problem worse, Professor Underwood said. “The evidence underpinning these invasive treatments is very weak indeed. And they have harms.”


He pointed to studies showing that a third of British patients with back pain are given opioids such as tramadol, codeine and morphine but said: “If anything the evidence is that [opioids] can end up making your pain worse.”


Past studies have found that pills like paracetamol and ibuprofen barely help with back pain. Psychological techniques to help cope with pain can stop it leading to permanent disability, however. “Your belief system and psychological state are important predictors of whether you’re going to end up disabled.


It’s a difficult message to get across,” Professor Underwood said


Apart, that is, from being the worlds leading cause of disability and is treated badly, (according to the experts).