Almost one in 10 people suffer from lower back pain, according to a study, and researchers said the condition caused more years to be lost due to disability than any other.
They said that because of the ageing population the problem will be even more extensive in coming decades.
The study, in a scientific journal, looked at data from the Global Burden Of Disease study, which assesses the health of people in 187 countries for 1990, 2005 and 2010.
Out of 291 conditions, low back pain topped the league table in terms of years lost to disability.
They also assessed the toll taken by low back pain in terms of "disability adjusted life years" - which is worked out by combining the number of years of life lost as a result of early death, and the number of years lived with disability. Lower back pain came sixth in the "disability adjusted life years" table.
The authors said the condition has the highest prevalence in Western Europe.