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Times Of India
14 Dec 2012
New Delhi, India.

Lower back pain – a common phenomenon among Indians – has been found to be the leading cause of years lived with disability (YLD) globally.

The Global Disease Burden study published on Thursday showed that lower back pain caused 83.1 million YLDs across the globe in 2010. Pain in the neck along with depressive disorders and iron deficiency anemia make up the top four leading causes of YLD. In 2010, there were 777 million YLDs from all causes – up from 583 million in 1990.

The main contributors to global YLDs were mental and behavioural and musculoskeletal disorders and diabetes or endocrine diseases. The leading specific causes of YLDs were much the same in 2010 as they were in 1990 like lower back pain, major depressive disorder, iron-deficiency anemia, neck pain, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, anxiety disorders, migraine, diabetes and falls.

The study looked at consequences of 289 diseases and injuries, estimating their global prevalence and impact on health. The study first identified 220 unique consequences of disease and injury as causing disability. Hearing loss was found to be one of the main causes affecting 1.3 billion people, and vision loss affected another 661 million. The study said that non-fatal health outcomes from diseases and injuries are a crucial consideration in the promotion and monitoring of individual and population health.

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In 2010, the two disease categories responsible for almost half of all YLDs – and consequently the largest overall health impact – were musculoskeletal disorders like arthritis and back pain and mental and behavioural di-sorders such as depression, schizophrenia and drug and alcohol use.

According to Professor Alan Lopez from the School of Population Health of the University of Queensland, who authored the study, “In an era in which the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have focused global health attention on prevention of mortality from selected diseases, it is important to realize that health is about more than avoiding death. Health priorities have, for much of the past 100 years or more, been largely driven by the imperative of improving the survival of populations, particularly child survival.”

Professor Theo Vos added, “This was justified, in view of the technologies available to treat and prevent childhood illness. However, societies spend substantial and increasing resources on keeping people healthy and alleviating disease, not only on keeping them alive into old age. As health care costs are rising fast, it is essential to provide governments with adequate information on how best to prioritize their health services to most adequately address the prevailing health problems.”

The number of individuals affected by head aches or migraine was also huge – these neurological causes ranked as the second and third most common, respectively.

Cancers caused a total of 4.5 million YLDs. Cardiovascular and circulatory diseases accounted for 2.8% of all YLDs with ischemic heart disease and stroke accounting for 60% of the total for the cardiovascular category.

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