Low Back Pain, its Impact on You and Society “Our bodies have evolved over millions of years to do one thing: move,” says James Levine, M.D., Ph.D., of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and author of “Move a Little, Lose a Lot.” “As human beings, we evolved to stand upright. For thousands of generations, our environment demanded nearly constant physical activity.”
Since prehistory, humans have been physically active to survive and thrive. In the last century, global industrialization has reduced an individual’s daily requirement for physical activity and has replaced it with sedentary activities in the modern office and home. At the current time:
- The U.S. healthcare system spends $70 billion annually for the treatment of low back pain.
- Low back pain causes a productivity loss of $100 billion to the US economy annually.
- Low back pain is the second leading reason for absence from the workplace after the common cold.
- Low back pain is the #1 disability claim in the U.S.
Low back pain (LBP) is one of our country’s most prevalent and costly healthcare challenges with more than one-fourth (26.4%) of American adults reporting back pain in the past three months and accounting for 20 million physician visits per year [Deyo, 2006].
The lifetime incidence of low back pain is 80% [Deyo, 1998].
In the workplace, LBP is the leading (and most expensive) cause of disability for people under the age of 45 [Andersson, 1999].
Further, LBP remains one of the leading causes for U.S. workers’ compensation claims and absenteeism with an estimated 102 million lost workdays annually [Guo, 1999].
Approximately 7 million new low back pain cases seek medical treatment every year. The total cost to the U.S. economy associated with LBP is estimated to exceed $100 billion per year [Katz, 2006].
Low back pain can be caused by a number of etiologies or causes ranging from ruptured discs with a clear physiological causation to nonspecific with no clear physiological causation.
Non-specific low back pain is with ~80% the largest contributor to the diagnosis of low back pain.
70 % of the nonspecific low back pain cases can be traced to an atrophied Lumbar Multifidus muscle.
The modern chair contributes to the problem. The modern chair has evolved into a device which promotes relaxation and equatingit with lack of movement. This causes complete atrophy of the human body, specifically the lower back.
Conventional, “ergonomic “office chairs are designed to cradle the stationary human body with adjustments for arm and foot rests, lumbar support and other body parts.
The only movement/ exercise the sitter gets in these chairs is by manipulating the adjustments because no single setting feels comfortable for an extended period of time.
All established seating manufacturers are now beginning to acknowledge the need to change this goal and are seeking active seating alternatives.
The combination of a sedentary life style and the modern chair design is causing a major health problem.
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 Deyo RA, Mirza SK, Martin BI, “Back Pain Prevalence and Visit Rates,” Spine 31(23): 2724-27, 2006
 Deyo RA, “Low-Back Pain,” Scientific American 279(2): 48-53, 1998
 Andersson GBJ, “Epidemiological features of chronic low-back pain,” Lancet 354:581–85, 1999.
 Guo HR, Tanaka S, Cameron LL, “Back pain prevalence in US industry and estimates of lost workdays,” Am J Pub Health 89:1029-35, 1999.
 Katz JN, “Lumbar disc disorders and low-back pain: Socioeconomic factors and consequences,” J Bone Joint Surg (Am) 88: 21-24, 2006.