PainRelief.com Interview with:
Sara E. Luckhaupt, MD, MPH
Medical Officer (Epidemiologist)
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
CDR, US Public Health Service
PainRelief.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
- In 2015, 26.4% of U.S. workers (nearly 40 million people) reported experiencing any low back pain (LBP) in the past 3 months; frequent and severe low back pain was reported by 8.1% of workers.
- Many of these cases (more than 20%) were attributed to work by a health professional, but most workers affected did not discuss work-relatedness with their providers.
- Regardless of the cause, low back pain affected many current workers’ ability to work.
- 16.9% of workers with any low back pain and 19.0% of those with frequent and severe low back pain missed at least 1 full day of work in the past 3 months because of LBP.
- 6.1% of workers with any low back pain and 10.7% of those with frequent and severe LBP had stopped working, changed jobs, or made a major change in work activities in the past 3 months because of their LBP
- The burden of low back pain among workers varied by occupational group.
- The proportion of workers who reported any low back pain and work-related LBP was highest in construction and extraction occupations; 31.6 percent of these workers reported any low back pain and 12.3% reported work-related LBP.
- The proportion of workers reporting frequent and severe low back pain was highest in building and grounds cleaning and maintenance occupations; 11.4% of these workers reported frequent and severe low back pain .
PainRelief.com: What should readers take away from your report?
- Low back pain among workers is a substantial problem.
- Many cases of low back pain among workers have been attributed to work, but work-relatedness may be under-recognized.
- Identifying an association with work may improve the chances of a patient’s recovery if an aspect of their job contributing to the pain can be reduced or eliminated.
PainRelief.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?
- We did not examine the relationship between obesity and low back pain in our study but low back pain has been found to be associated with obesity in other studies. Other research in this area could be helpful.
- Future research could also examine which aspects of various jobs are most highly associated with LBP and best practices for healthcare providers to recognize and address work-related low back pain .
Sara E. Luckhaupt, MD, MPH; James M. Dahlhamer, PhD; Gabriella T. Gonzales, BS; Ming-Lun Lu, PhD; Matthew Groenewold, PhD; Marie Haring Sweeney, PhD; Brian W. Ward, PhD
Published: Ann Intern Med. 2019.
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