HealthDay News — The overall prevalence of low back pain (LBP) among US workers is about 26.4%, according to a research letter published online May 14 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Sara E. Luckhaupt, MD, MPH, from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in Cincinnati, and colleagues estimated the burden of LBP among US workers using the National Health Interview Survey. Data were included for 19,441 randomly selected adults in the sample who were employed during the week before the interview.

The researchers found that the overall prevalence was 26.4, 8.1, and 5.6% for any LBP, frequent and severe LBP, and work-related LBP, respectively. Workers employed in computer and mathematical occupations had the lowest prevalence of all 3 outcomes. The likelihood of reporting all 3 outcomes was increased for workers who reported frequent exertion or standing vs those who did not. About 21.4 and 23.7% of workers with any LBP and those with frequent or severe LBP reported being told by a health professional that their LBP was probably work-related. Overall, 16.9 and 19.0% of workers with any LBP and with frequent and severe LBP, respectively, missed at least one full day of work in the previous 3 months.

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“Diagnosing an occupational cause may improve the chances of a patient’s recovery if an occupational exposure precipitating the pain can be reduced or eliminated,” the authors write.

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