One in 11 Aussies have back issues

BACK problems affect one in every 11 Australians, and may lead to psychological problems and mental disorders, government research revealed on Tuesday.

New figures taken on back pain in Australians, recorded in 2007-08, were released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

The online snapshot also showed back problems often led to "poorer quality of life, psychological distress, mental disorders and disability".

AIHW spokeswoman Louise York said mental disorders such as depression were more common among people with back problems.

"People with back problems are 2.5 times as likely to report having affective disorders, 1.8 times as likely to report an anxiety disorder and 1.3 times as likely to report a substance use disorder as people without back problems," she said.

"They are also 1.2 times as likely to report high or very high levels of psychological distress and more likely to rate their health status as fair or poor."

Research also showed people with back problems were 3.4 times more likely to report limited basis daily activities, such as getting dressed or getting into and out of bed or a car, compared with people without back problems.

"Out of the 44% of people with back problems who also reported activity limitations, about two-thirds reported mild to moderate core limitations, and about one-third reported severe or profound activity limitations," Ms York said.

In 2004-05, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians were 25% more likely to report having back problems than non-Indigenous Australians.

The AIHW is a major national agency set up by the Australian Government to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia's health and welfare.

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