What a Pain in the Back!
You may not know it, but back pain is the leading cause of disability in the western world. By ‘disability’ I am referring to what the studies describe as ‘years with disability’.
The last 20-30 years has seen an increase in cases of back pain such that it now outranks conditions like diarrheal disease, road injuries and HIV/AIDS 1,3 using the disability ranking system.
If you are looking for answers about why you have back pain, this post is for you. I cover some of the common causes of back pain, how chiropractic care commonly helps in cases of back pain and what you can do right now to address your concern.
The Statistics Define the Problem
Here are some useful statistics in helping to define the significance of that ‘pain in the back.’
According to a study published in Neurologic Clinics2, low back and neck pain causes enormous social, economic and psychologic impacts. They estimate that in any one year, between 15-20% of adults have back pain. Over a life time, this figure rises to between 50-80% of adults.
It has to be understood that back pain is a significant burden, being more than simply a pain in the back. It is a major cause of disability with significant consequences, as the following data reveals.
With Americans spending over $50bn per year4 on treatments and with the cost to the Australian economy of $8.14bn per year5 in lost earnings and productivity, the costs associated with this issue are enormous.
Back Pain and Disability
The Global Burden of Disease Study 20163 (as published in The Lancet) ranked the most common causes of disability. Their metric is the ‘years lived with disability’ metric and measures the burden of disease.
As the graph shows, combined back and neck pain are the leading cause of disability, taking up 10.75% of the total sore.
This graph only shows the top 5 causes.
This is such an important figure and one that shines the spotlight on the prevalence of this health challenge.
Why is Back Pain so Common?
One reason for this increase in back pain disability could be that we are living longer. Developed countries, such as Germany and Japan, have a growing demographic of older people. Perhaps as we get older we are more susceptible to back pain?
Other common causes of back pain may include:
- Joint problems
- Ligament or muscle injury or sprains
- Disc pain, disease and herniation
- Sports injury, repetitive strain, slips, trips and falls
- Poor posture habits over time
- Weight gain or obesity
- Disease of the internal organs such as kidney stones or infections
Back Pain Facts
Chronic Versus Acute Back Pain
Back pain can be divided into two categories: acute (short term) back pain and chronic (long term) back pain. Chronic pain is pain that persists longer than three months. Chronic pain may prevent you from fully enjoying your life. It may reduce your productivity at work. It may stop you from playing your favourite sport. Nobody wants to be in pain.
Chiropractors commonly help in cases of chronic pain of a mechanical nature.
How does Chiropractic Help With Back Pain?
Depending on the cause of your back pain, manual therapy such as chiropractic may be beneficial to you.
Chiropractic usually involves treatment in the form of a chiropractic adjustment or a lower velocity mobilisation. The two variations are detailed below.
The chiropractic adjustment: this is a precise application of pressure applied to a stuck or problematic area along your spine. The goal is to improve functionality and increase movement around the joint. This helps to restore more normal range of motion.
The chiropractic mobilisation: this is low velocity manipulation or stretching performed on a problematic area with the goal of increasing the range of motion around the target area.
What Can You Do Now?
If you are in pain, try placing an ice pack on the sore area to reduce inflammation and reduce pain. If you can move without exacerbating the pain, try some gentle stretching to increase blood flow and flexibility.
If you have experienced pain for longer than three months and if your pain is stopping you from enjoying life, moving freely and being active, please contact me today.
The team here at New World Chiro are trained in the professional and personal management of new patient cases. Our goal is to figure out what is happening in your case and to provide you with our best recommendations.
If clinically indicated and safe you will receive chiropractic care or our best recommendations on how to address your concern.
- Rubin Dl. Epidemiology and Risk Factors for Spine Pain. Neurol Clin. 2007; May;25(2):353-71.
- In Project Briefs: Back Pain Patient Outcomes Assessment Team (BOAT). In MEDTEP Update, Vol. 1 Issue 1, Agency for Health Care Policy and Research, Rockville, MD.