Causes of lower back pain can be lifting heavy loads, laughing, coughing but not sex, George Institute study finds

The Sydney Morning Herald has featured George Institute for Global Health researcher Patricia Parreira’s research study PAIN. 

It interviewed 999 people about what they believed triggered their back pain to evaluate the accuracy of their perceptions of its cause.

“One man said he did it picking up his wife's underpants.

Another thinks he did it through a combination of sexual activity and putting on a sock.

They did it laughing, coughing, lifting crates of sponge cake and slipping on wet floor.

All of them visited their doctors with lower back pain, which is the leading cause of work absenteeism throughout much of the world.

Senior researcher Manuela Ferreira said people with lower back pain were most likely to nominate physical causes or those related to minor tasks, but they underestimated psychosocial causes of back pain, such as being tired or distracted.

Previous research demonstrates that people are 25 times more likely to injure their backs when they are distracted during heavy lifting activity.

"Patients have a very good insight into what's happening with their body," Associate Professor Ferreira said.

"This is helpful for clinicians. We do need to listen to patients.”

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