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Epidemiology and differential diagnosis in injuries and degenerative diseases of the low back.

Nordby E
Occupational safety and health symposia 1977. Cincinnati, OH: U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, DHEW (NIOSH) Publication No. 78-169, 1978 Jun; :83-88
The roles of epidemiology and differential diagnosis in diagnosing injuries and degenerative diseases of the low back were discussed. The epidemiological aspects of low back injury were considered. Precise data on the annual incidence of back injuries in the United States (US) do not exist primarily because there is no central reporting agency. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, however, has estimated that 8 million persons with low back pain seek medical care annually. It was estimated that medical expenses associated with each back injury patient amount to 18,000 dollars. Associated losses, interrupted income and loss of related benefits, amount to an additional 22,000 dollars. Back injuries resulting from automobile accidents were discussed. It was estimated that in the US, 5300 persons per year survive automobile accidents with severed spinal cords and do not recover their function. Differential diagnosis of low back injuries and degenerative disease was discussed. Successfully differentiating low back injuries or disease from other conditions involves primarily separating patients with herniating nucleus pulposus from those with hypertrophic arthritis, acute or chronic strain or sprain, fractures, rheumatoid spondylitis, and tumors. A good medical history, medical examination, and x-rays of the lumbosacral spine can usually diagnose the cause of low back pain. Risk factors for developing herniating lumbar invertebral discs were summarized. Driving motor vehicles at work was considered to be a major risk factor. For example, one study has found that males who spend 50 percent of their job driving are three times more likely to develop disc herniation than those who do not. Symptoms of various low back conditions were discussed.
NIOSH-Contract; Contract-210-77-0088; Back-injuries; Risk-factors; Motor-vehicles; Clinical-diagnosis; Musculoskeletal-system; Musculoskeletal-system-disorders; Clinical-symptoms
Publication Date
Document Type
Conference/Symposia Proceedings
Fiscal Year
Source Name
Occupational safety and health symposia 1977
Page last reviewed: February 18, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division