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Study: Bad backs the most disabling ailment in the world

It can happen without warning. You might be doing something as mundane as vacuuming the living room floor or picking up a piece of trash and all of a sudden your back goes out.

We're not talking a mere twinge that takes your breath away. We're talking about an attack that leaves you frozen in place. It might lead to jolting pain that seems to shoot down your legs and out your toes.

That kind of bad back can be disabling; preventing a person from working full time or maybe at all. Does it qualify you for Social Security disability benefits? That's a question to explore with your doctor and an attorney experienced with dealing with the Social Security Administration's complicated benefits application processes.

Just how common is a bad back? A new global study of back injuries that's just been released suggests our aching backs are the cause of more disability than anything else in the world. 

The authors of the study say that their findings have led them to warn health officials in California and everywhere else that they need to be prepared to address disablement due to low back injury much more seriously than has been done up to now. They say increasing life expectancies and the growth of the aging population only make the argument more compelling.

The researchers examined data from the Global Burden of Disease 2010 study performed under the aegis of the World Health Organization. The review parceled the world up into 21 regions and covered data from 117 individual studies. They looked at disabilities caused by all forms of ailments for the years 1990, 2005 and 2010.

The study assessed 291 different conditions in all and found that low back injury resulted in the greatest number of years lost due to disability. In 12 of the 21 regions, low back injury was the leading cause. Western Europe and Australasia were the regions most affected.

Source: Medical News Today, "Global burden of disability highest for low back pain," Marie Ellis, March 25, 2014

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