Background Low back pain (LBP) is a common health problem yet it still raises controversies about rationales for appropriate and cost effective management. LBP burden is reported to be higher in developing compared to developed countries in the absence of an adequate work leave compensation system.
Objectives Estimate LBP prevalence, assess risk factors and evaluate the impact in term of work leave.
Methods Three observational studies were conducted between 1997 and 1999. The first was population based on a random sample of 1035 adults asked to report on LBP over the past week. The second was conducted among nursing profession looking at LBP occurrence fever the past month in a sample of 633 subjects. The third was in an occupational setting addressing past history of LBP and included 201 individuals.
Results Among adults, prevalence of LBP at any given day was 13.1 (CI:11.0–14.2). Mean age is 41.8(SD:16.3) and M/F ratio is 0.7. A history of trauma was recorded by 13.2% (7.5–18.9) of LBP cases.
Among nurses, 54% had experienced LBP over the past month. Handling patients was related to LBP by 60% (CI:55–65) of nurses.
In an occupational setting, heavy workload is associated with higher frequency of LBP. 30.7% of those seeking medical care were offered a sick leave.
Conclusion At any given day,13.1% (CI: 11.0–14.2) of adult population would report acute LBP. Workload is related to LBP occurrence. Sick leave is commonly prescribed for LBP.
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