After colds and flu, backache is the second most common reason for visiting the doctor in Italy and one of the major causes of absence from the workplace, according to a national orthopaedic conference being held in Rome this week.

It affects both men and women in equal measure, with over 80 per cent of Italians suffering backache at least once in their life and 60 per cent enduring it at least three times. The conference also highlighted that eight Italians out of every 100 suffer from chronic backache. Causes are varied, ranging from a sedentary lifestyle and being overweight to incorrect posture while playing sports or doing exercise.