Low back pain in Iran: a growing need to adapt and implement evidence-based practice in developing countries

Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2011 May 1;36(10):E638-46. doi: 10.1097/BRS.0b013e3181fa1da2.


Study design: A descriptive overview of the literature.

Objective: To present a comprehensive descriptive overview of the published papers about epidemiologic features, burden, and current management of low back pain (LBP) in Iran.

Summary of background data: Little is known about the epidemiology, burden, and management of LBP in developing and low- to middle-income countries, such as Iran.

Methods: A literature search was carried out using MEDLINE database to assess existing literature about prevalence, disease burden, impact, and current management of nonspecific LBP in Iran.

Results: Twenty-six articles matched inclusion criteria and included in the study. The findings related to point, period, and lifetime prevalence of LBP in general population, working population, school children, and pregnant women ranged from 14.4% to 84.1%. The 1-year incidence of disabling LBP was found to be 2.1%. LBP is the third leading cause of disease burden (measured by Disability Adjusted Life Years) in Iranian population aged 15 to 69 years, without considering causes of intentional and unintentional injuries. High levels of anxiety and depression among patients with LBP and the etiological role of job strain in causing LBP in workers have been reported in Iran. Our search failed to find any articles about referral system, direct and indirect costs, social determinants, and current management of LBP in Iran.

Conclusion: This overview of the literature illustrates that LBP is a common symptom and an important cause of disease burden in Iran, in particular, in the most productive age for both males and females. The 1-year incidence of disabling LBP in Iran was found to be low. Future research will be necessary to investigate economic cost, social determinants, health technology assessment, and management of LBP in Iran.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cost of Illness
  • Developing Countries*
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Evidence-Based Medicine*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Iran / epidemiology
  • Low Back Pain* / diagnosis
  • Low Back Pain* / epidemiology
  • Low Back Pain* / therapy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pregnancy
  • Prevalence
  • Professional Practice
  • Quality-Adjusted Life Years
  • Young Adult