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Wednesday, July 29, 1998 Published at 23:57 GMT 00:57 UK


Back pain prostrates women

Women are particularly vulnerable, the survey found

More than half the adult population of the UK suffers from back pain and women are particularly hard hit, a survey has revealed.

It is estimated that back problems cost British industry £5bn a year in lost working days and add £480m a year to the NHS bill.

The Mori survey of nearly 2,000 people found women are the biggest sufferers, with 54% complaining of back troubles.

The root causes for pain in the back are housework and looking after children.

Nearly a third of women said their back pain was aggravated by vacuuming, 15% said it was brought on by pushing heavy shopping trolleys and 10% said it was caused by dusting or cleaning.

Dishwashers, lawnmowers and vacuum cleaners were widely criticised for poor design that exacerbated back problems.

Mothers suffer

More than three-quarters of mothers with young children blamed the design of prams for causing back strain and 72% believed the same to be true of pushchairs.

Almost a fifth (16%) of mothers said that reaching for a child seat in a car can start a backache or make it worse.

A council member of the National Back Pain Associates, Dr Peter Skew, said: "Back pain is a serious problem in the UK and this research identifies young women as hard hit.

"People need to know more about back pain and how they can help themselves."

More sedentary

Dr John Dickson, a past president of the Primary Care Rheumatology Society, said most backpain was due to simple twinges in the muscles.

He said: "As people have more sedentary jobs they do not move their muscles as much and therefore are more prone to back pain."

Dr Dickson suggested that household tasks should be varied to minimise the risk of muscle strain from repetition of the same types of movement.

He said: "You should also do a few exercises after finishing a job which you know can cause back pain. Unfortunately people tend to sit down and have a cup of tea instead."

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