As a physical therapist for over 20 years, I have seen my share of clients with low back pain. Most people know that low back pain is a common ailment that affects millions of people worldwide, but often they do not realize how significantly it impacts the workplace. In fact, it's estimated that over 80% of adults will experience low back pain at some point in their lives, making it one of the leading causes of missed workdays and decreased work productivity. In this blog, we'll explore the statistics surrounding low back pain and its consequences for the workforce, as well as how physical therapy can play a crucial role in preventing and managing this debilitating condition.
The Alarming Statistics
Low back pain is a global health concern, with statistics painting a clear picture of its prevalence and impact on the workplace:
High Prevalence: According to the World Health Organization, low back pain is the leading cause of disability worldwide. Globally, 619 million people suffered from LBP (low back pain) in 2020.
Missed Workdays: Low back pain is a significant driver of absenteeism. In the U.S., it is one of the most common reasons for missing work. The National Library of Medicine estimated a loss of 101.8 workdays occur annually due to back pain.
Economic Burden: The economic burden of low back pain is staggering. In the U.S., it is estimated that low back pain costs more than $100 billion per year in healthcare expenses and lost productivity.
Chronic Cases: Low back pain can often become a chronic condition, with 20% of people experiencing persistent or recurring symptoms. This leads to extended periods of absenteeism and decreased job performance.
The Role of Physical Therapy
Physical therapy is a highly effective intervention for addressing low back pain and reducing the associated work-related absenteeism. Here are ways in which the highly skilled therapists at Functionize Health & Physical Therapy can help:
Pain Management: We employ a range of techniques to alleviate pain, including manual therapy, Dry Needling & ASTYM, therapeutic exercises, and functional activities. These interventions can significantly reduce discomfort and improve function.
Prevention: Education is key! We share our knowledge on proper body mechanics and posture. By addressing the root causes of low back pain, they help prevent its occurrence in the first place.
Functional Restoration: Once your pain is under control and you are moving better, we focus on improving mobility and strength. Increased skeletal muscle mass will decrease the risk of future injury and increase your life longevity. This will empower you to perform their job-related tasks more comfortably, reducing the risk of reinjury.
Individualized Care: At Functionize Health, we create personalized treatment plans based on your specific needs and the nature of your work. This tailored approach ensures that treatment is directly aligned with the demands of your job and personal goals.
Low back pain is a prevalent and costly issue that directly impacts the workforce by causing missed workdays and decreased productivity. However, physical therapy offers a valuable solution to this problem. By addressing pain, preventing future episodes, and improving function, your Functionize PT’s can play a crucial role in reducing absenteeism and keeping you functional both at work and at home. With our expertise and personalized care, we empower individuals to conquer low back pain, ultimately leading to healthier, happier, and more productive workplaces.
It's clear that the statistics surrounding low back pain are a call to action. By investing in preventive measures and effective interventions like physical therapy, we can mitigate the negative consequences of this widespread condition and ensure a more vibrant and productive workforce.
Thanks for reading,
Leslie Novak PT, MPT
Leslie is a dedicated and experienced physical therapist with over two decades of expertise in the field. Originally hailing from Upstate New York, she has embraced a dynamic life, moving every four years in her formative years, which has greatly enhanced her ability to connect with a wide variety of people. This nomadic lifestyle has also provided Leslie with the opportunity to live overseas, further enriching exposure to cultural diversity.
Leslie's journey in the world of physical therapy began over 20 years ago, driven by an unwavering commitment to helping individuals regain their strength, mobility and quality of life after seeing her brother recover from a traumatic knee injury. Since graduating from Georgia State University with her Master's in Physical Therapy, she has acquired a diverse background encompassing orthopedics, post-operative rehabilitation, aquatics, and geriatrics.
What sets Leslie apart is her passion for guiding patients on a transformative journey from despair to triumph. She believes in the power of rehabilitation to not only heal the body but also to uplift the spirit. Leslie has witnessed countless individuals start their therapeutic journey believing their injury was insurmountable, only to witness them achieve goals they once thought impossible.
In the realm of orthopedics, Leslie has honed her skills to address a wide range of musculoskeletal conditions, helping patients recover strength and mobility after surgeries or injuries. She is ASTYM and Dry Needling Certified and her expertise extends to post-operative rehabilitation, where she designs customized programs to expedite recovery and enhance overall well-being.
Leslie's unique background of relocating every four years and living overseas has instilled in her a profound appreciation for cultural diversity, allowing her to connect with patients from all walks of life and tailor their care accordingly. She understands that each patient's journey is unique, and she approaches her work with an open mind and a commitment to individualized care.
Additionally, Leslie has a deep appreciation for geriatric care, understanding the unique challenges faced by elderly patients. She enjoys creating a plan of care to improve the quality of life for seniors by developing functionally tailored rehabilitation plans that focus on maintaining independence and enhancing overall vitality.
Beyond her career, Leslie is a proud mother of two boys and can be found on weekends on the soccer sidelines or in the stands cheering on the Georgia Bulldogs alongside her husband. She considers herself an everyday athlete with a love for running and swimming. Leslie has seen her share of setbacks and injuries throughout the years, but views these challenges as a way to connect with her clients who are also overcoming obstacles. However, as her kids will soon be leaving the nest, Leslie eagerly awaits more free time to resume the activities she enjoys.
Guo, Tanaka, Halperin, Cameron. Back pain and prevalence in US industry and estimates of lost workdays. Am J Public Health 1999 July; 89(7): 1029–1035
GBD 2021 Low Back Pain Collaborators. Global, regional, and national burden of low back pain, 1990-2020, its attributable risk factors, and projections to 2050: a systematic analysis of the Global Burden of Disease Study 2021. Lancet Rheumatol 2023: 5: e316-29
Fatoye, Gebrye, Ryan, Useh. Global and region estimates of clinical and economic burden of low back pain in high income countries: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Fron. Public Health June 9, 2023