Low back pain is a major cause of morbidity in high-, middle- and low-income countries, yet to date it has been relatively under-prioritised and under-funded. One important reason may be the low ranking it has received relative to many other conditions included in the previous Global Burden of Disease studies, due in part to a lack of uniformity in how low back pain is defined and a paucity of suitable data. We present an overview of methods we have undertaken to ensure a more accurate estimate for low back pain in the Global Burden of Disease 2005 study. This will help clinicians to contextualise the new estimates and rankings when they become available at the end of 2010. It will also be helpful in planning further population-based epidemiological studies of low back pain to ensure their estimates can be included in the future Global Burden of Disease studies.
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