A number of statistics reveal that during 2012, back pain caused more than 330,000 sick leave days, costing almost 120 million euros to Finnish companies and the society. On a national level, the costs rise up to 600 million euros at minimum. Doctors working for occupational health alone get almost 200,000 patients a year because of back pain. Last year, these patients were over half a million days on sick leave. The computational average cost for one sick leave day is around 350 euros. And these numbers do not even account for absences that the employee calls in without visiting occupational health. Most of these absences are caused by back pain, not, for instance, sick leave days granted via health-care centers or special health care.
Costs for back pain almost 600 million a year
More than 80 percent of Finnish people suffer from back pain at some point of their life. Back pain is the biggest cause for work disablement in Finland.
The biggest costs are caused by prolonged cases of back pain. Intense co-operation between the workplace, the employee and occupational health is the only way to break the endless spiral of sick leaves and to cure the employee. The most common reason for prolonged back pain cases is that the patients react to the symptoms in a way that makes them even worse. People tend to naturally avoid feeling pain. When your back hurts, you normally move less, and in the worst-case scenario, just lay in bed. Most back pain cases are caused by sedentary work, for which the human back is definitely not designed. A little-known fact is that smoking also perpetuates chronic back pain by drying up intervertebral discs.
It is important to avoid obesity by getting enough exercise, by taking care of your abdominal and back muscles as well as of your work ergonomics, and by standing up as much as possible during your work day.