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Kiwis urged not to turn their back on chronic back pain

Stoic Kiwis urged not to turn their back on chronic back pain any longer

25 June 2015: Survey results released today revealed that too many New Zealanders are putting on a brave front when it comes to dealing with chronic back pain, suffering for too long and often in silence.

The ‘Don’t Turn Your Back On It’ online survey* by AbbVie of 514 New Zealanders living with back pain for more than three months, showed that nearly three in four (73%) respondents who have seen a healthcare professional waited up to two years before seeking medical help1. Additionally, despite being in severe pain, more than four in five (94%) chose to keep silent or only sometimes mentioned their pain to others1.

The new research also found that chronic back pain can impact both professional and personal lives profoundly. One in five (20%) identified that they needed help with everyday tasks, like shopping and gardening1 and nearly one third (31%) of respondents indicated their moods were impacted1 and 39% found it had an impact on stress1.

According to the research, work performance was also impacted with one-in-five (21%) admitting their chronic back pain has a ‘large’ or ‘very large’ impact on their work1. Those suffering severe back pain reported taking an average of 17.8 days leave from work in a year1 and 15% have had to change jobs due to their back pain1. For those with severe back pain this increases to over one-third (34%).
Rheumatologist, Waikato DHB and Honorary Senior Lecturer, University of Auckland, Dr Doug White sees a variety of patients with chronic back pain and is frequently surprised that people don’t seek medical advice sooner and live with symptoms for several years.
"It's clear that back pain can have a large detrimental effect on work, both in terms of absence from the workplace and poor performance when at work. For some with back pain, a comprehensive management plan can make a significant difference,” Dr White said.

Former V8 supercar driver Matt Lockwood knows all too well about the impact chronic back pain can have on work as he lives with a spinal condition known as Ankylosing Spondylitis.

“I’ve lived with back pain for over 12 years and was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis as a teenager. It’s had a huge impact on me and my life, but I was fortunate to have my condition diagnosed at an early age, as if I left it untreated, bones in my spine may have fused together,” he said.

There are different types of back pain and getting medical advice for persistent back pain is important and something that Sandra Kirby, CEO of Arthritis New Zealand encourages New Zealanders to do.

“Back pain is responsible for a high percentage of lost time off work and affects people being able to keep active at home or in the community. If your pain doesn’t go away after a couple of days it is a good idea to see a doctor. Early identification and treatment is key to getting on top of back pain,” she said.

A new national health initiative called ‘Don’t Turn Your Back On It’ has recently launched in New Zealand to encourage people who have experienced back pain for more than three months to to learn more about the potential causes of back pain, and to take a short Inflammatory Back Pain (IBP) online screening questionnaire.

- ENDS –

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