Many Manhours Lost to Backache

Many Manhours Lost to BackacheMany Manhours Lost to Backache

It might be a common health issue and many people may take it for granted, but surprisingly, back pain is the second most common reason to skip work in Iran. It is also the number one reason to visit the doctor and accounts for 7.5 percent of the nation›s health burden. It rivals the burden from road accident.

Interestingly, the World Health Organization (WHO) has provided a set of detailed guidelines for measuring disease burden at the local or national level. For example, years lost due to disability (YLD) or years of potential lost life (YPLL) measures the years of what could have been a healthy life that were instead spent in a state of less than full health.

It is estimated that the economic cost of back problems is $10.5 billion annually. The situation has no doubt alerted health officials.

  Change Lifestyle

Back pain is more common among the 20-59 age groups. The main causes are said to be obesity and sedentary lifestyle. Anxiety and stress also play a big role on the development of acute back pain.

According to Dr.Behzad Damari, deputy health official, 70% of people between age 20 and 50 are temporarily disabled by back pain at least once in their lifetime; this means 300,000 lost hours due to back complaints. Iran also ranks number one in rheumatic pain in Asia. Damari attributes the recent rise in the problem to different factors. But topping them is sedentary lifestyle, sitting for long hours, excess weight and lifting objects improperly. He stresses the importance of education at the workplace since work-related activities are the most common causes of backache, reports ISNA.

The official maintains that herniated disc is also a cause for many complaints.  Lifting heavy objects, twisting, or a sudden movement can cause muscles or ligaments to stretch or develop ‹microscopic tears›. The primary cause of backache is strain on the spinal muscles which in extreme cases can cause a herniated disc. However, in most cases, even in extreme sciatica pain, resting on your back will help recovery, he adds.

  Register System

Damari says, despite the fact that many patients fall into the trap of surgery, 90% do not need it. He recommends that individuals make lifestyle changes to prevent back problems.

Announcing that a national back pain register system is to be launched, he said it would serve as a tool to single out ‹non-critical› patients who can be treated without surgery. The plan includes addressing the sort of back pains which he calls ‹›non-critical››. They will be given simple guidelines to remedy their condition. If the problem persists, then medical treatment would be recommended. But in most cases, the problem goes away, he says.

The plan is in accordance with the larger Health Reform Program to address among others three common issues: osteoporosis, backache and arthritis.

He said the plan consists of a self-care package for prevention, identifying and educating patients and finally issuing a health card to address their condition.

  Create Awareness

Further, he stressed the need to educate pregnant women since they are more likely to develop back pain due to excess body weight, and loosening of ligaments in the pelvic area as the body prepares for delivery.

Damari also emphasized the need for other institutions to join the campaign. Ministry of Commerce for instance, has to take measures to regulate more carefully the import of the right ergonomic office chair. Social Security Organization needs to promote health awareness at the workplace. Municipality is also expected to provide standard exercise equipment for the public. But the best action, he reiterates, is improvement in lifestyle.