Rajani Mullerpatan, Shweta Nahar, Yuvraj Singh, Pierre Cote, Margareta Nordin

April 2021, Volume 30, Issue 4, pp 1004 - 1010 Original Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-020-06585-3

First Online: 10 September 2020


Among non-communicable disorders, low back and neck pain are the most common causes of severe, long-term pain and disability affecting more than a billion people globally. Yet, the burden and impact of these conditions are not well understood, especially among rural and tribal people living in low- and middle-income countries.


The aims of this study were to measure point prevalence of low back and neck pain among rural and tribal people in Raigad District of Maharashtra, India, and explore attitudes and beliefs of rural people towards spine pain and disability.


In a cross-sectional survey of six villages in the Raigad District of Maharashtra State of India from August to October 2016, low back and neck pain were measured using the Spine Pain Questionnaire.


We surveyed 2323 participants, which did not include children and adolescents. Among rural people (n = 2073), the point prevalence of low back and neck pain was 4.9% (95% CI 3.94–5.79) and 2.9% (95% CI 2.21–8.87), respectively. Among tribal people (n = 250), prevalence was 10.0% (95% CI 6.28–13.71) for low back pain and 3.6% (95% CI 1.29–5.90) for neck pain. Lifting heavy weights and bending trunk were the most limiting activities. During informal discussions, most villagers attributed spine pain to traditional lifestyle and age. Participants continued occupational work in the presence of pain. Lack of transport facilities and cost of treatment emerged as the two most common reasons for delay in seeking treatment at nearby healthcare centres. This information will inform the development of customized spine care programmes through community-engaged partnerships and self-empowerment of the local community.

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