Real World Incidence and Prevalence of Low Back Pain: A Systematic Review


      Low back pain (LBP) is the most common musculoskeletal disorder worldwide. It is a major source of disability, productivity loss and a frequent reason for medical consultations. As a result, it is associated with significant economic burden. There is limited evidence on the prevalence and incidence of LBP in real-world settings. This review systematically evaluated the prevalence and incidence based on real world data.


      A systematic review was conducted in August 2017 in accordance to the PRISMA guideline. CINHAL, Medline, SportsDiscus and AMED were searched using specifically developed search strategies to identify studies on prevalence and incidence of LBP between 1968 to 2017. The quality of the studies was assessed as recommended by Hoy et al (2012). Data extraction included: authors, year, study aim, country, database, population, LBP definitions, risk factors, and prevalence and incidence rates.


      A total of 1345 studies were identified, of which 10 were relevant and included in the review. The included studies reported incidence and prevalence data from Canada, United States of America, Sweden, Belgium, Finland, and Netherlands. All studies were assessed to be methodologically sound. The prevalence and incidence of LBP ranged from 1.33% to 17% and 0.01 to 7.3, respectively. Three studies reported that the Odds of LBP in male was higher than their female counterparts (Odds Ratio >1; range = 1.11 to17.29). Risk factors for LBP included age, sex, race, high intensity physical activity, high spinal load, lifting, and bending and twisting.


      This review suggests that LBP is a global burden. The findings may help policy makers place more importance on the condition, and clinicians to put appropriate strategies in place to prevent the incidence and prevalence of LBP, and manage the condition. Further real-world studies are required to determine the effectiveness of prevention and management strategies for LBP.