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Socioeconomic Implications Of Back Pain

Oct 8, 2007
Although on the one hand it is a shock to consider that back pain costs billions across America in lose of work time, lower productively and increased health care bills when one considers that eighty percent of all Americans will suffer back pain at some time in their lives it seems to make perfect sense. Studies conducted by researchers who specialize in lower back injuries and the related pain show that there are two types of costs based on the consequences of lower back pain. One will be the direct cost of the pain; these include visits to the sufferer's health care provider, hospital stays, medications and physiotherapy. There are also indirect costs, which take into consideration diminished productivity and income loss.

At the same time they found that there are some surprising socioeconomic factors that not only influence the risks of who will be more likely to suffer back pain but how it is treated. Their studies have shown that those who are unsatisfied with their jobs, have reached less than a university level education, do daily physical work or have jobs that are considered stressful are more likely to suffer from back pain. So are those who have some disability, are overweight, older, smoke or suffer from depression. More info like this is obtainable from some excellent sources.

An example of the different methods of treatment based on socioeconomic factors is that minority back pain sufferers are less likely to have tests or x-rays to determine the cause. The same is true of lower income whites. Surgery is more likely to be the remedy with higher income whites. The United States is more prone to use surgery as a remedy for back pain than most other developed countries. You can count on five percent of all employed Americans missing at least one day of work per year because of back pain.

Research also shows that one of the biggest problems with back pain due to a work-based injury is whether the employee is ever going to return to work. Initially you will see that eighty percent of workers return to their jobs within the first month. Of the remainder ninety percent are back at work with three months. Five percent never go back to work. It seems that if a worker is off for more time they are less likely to go back to their job. After six months of those who remain off the job only fifty percent will go back to work. If the injury keeps a person off the job for closer to a year only twenty five percent are likely to return to work.

These studies show that due to socioeconomic issues woman, students and the disabled look at lower back injury and pain with a differing reality then men and so the links to social status and income greatly influence the ability to get the right treatment for back aches and to insure that their jobs will be waiting should they need the time off to get passed an episode of back pain.
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