ISLAMABAD: A study found out that individuals who have back pain are more likely to also experience a range of mental health issues.

The research team - headed up by Prof. Patricia Schofield and Dr. Brendon Stubbs from Anglia Ruskin University in the United Kingdom - took data from 190,595 individuals aged 18 or older across 43 countries, making it the largest study of its type. Of the 43 countries, 19 were low-income and 24 were middle-income.

The analysis of the questionnaire data showed that, when compared with people without back pain, those who did experience back pain were more than twice as likely to experience one of five mental health conditions - anxiety, depression, psychosis, stress, and sleep deprivation.

People with chronic back pain were also three times more likely to experience a depressive episode and 2.6 times more likely to experience psychosis.

Interestingly, the results were relatively similar across all 43 LMICs, regardless of their standing on the socioeconomic ladder.

"Our data shows that both back pain and chronic back pain are associated with an increased likelihood of depression, psychosis, anxiety, stress, and sleep disturbances.

This suggests that back pain has important mental health implications, which may make recovery from back pain more challenging. The exact reasons for this are yet to be established."

Dr. Stubbs during his study used such a large group of people across a section of populations, the findings can be considered highly reliable. As back pain is so prevalent in LMICs (and the world at large), any connection to mental health needs to be thoroughly understood.

As Dr. Stubbs says:

"Further research is required to find out more about the links between these problems and to ensure effective treatments can be developed. It is also important that healthcare professionals are made aware of this link to refer patients to other services if necessary."