Facts & Statistics About Back Pain
Taking the time to stretch before any activity, even gardening, can greatly reduce your risk of back pain.
There are a lot of things said about back pain; who gets it, what causes it, why do so many people suffer from it and how to prevent it. Let’s look at what several popular sources say about back pain.
Back pain is not a diagnosis, it is a symptom of an actual medical condition. These conditions could be muscular, skeletal, neurological or mental and be the result of activity, injury, accidents or stress. Back pain impacts a large percentage of the population, but can combated with healthy life choices:
- Warm up and stretch adequately before physical activities like sports, gardening or lifting
- Exercise, specifically with activities that build core strength
- Practice good posture, especially while sitting and lifting
- Maintain a healthy weight to reduce joint and muscle stress
- Find ways to relax and schedule them in to your daily routine
- Daily inversion helps keep your spine decompressed and your core muscles stretched
Who gets back pain?
- “80% of the population will experience a back problem at some time in our lives.” (American Chiropractic Association via Vallfors B. Acute, Subacute and Chronic Low Back Pain: Clinical Symptoms, Absenteeism and Working Environment. Scan J Rehab Med Suppl 1985; 11: 1-98.)
- “Back pain is the leading cause of disability in Americans under 45 years old. More than 26 million Americans between the ages of 20-64 experience frequent back pain.” (The American Academy of Pain Medicine via National Centers for Health Statistics, Chartbook on Trends in the Health of Americans 2006, Special Feature: Pain. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hus/hus06.pdf.)
- “In a 3-month period, about one-fourth of U.S. adults experience at least 1 day of back pain. It is one of our society’s most common medical problems.” (National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases)
What causes back pain?
- “You can sprain ligaments, strain muscles, rupture disks, and irritate joints, all of which can lead to back pain.” (American Chiropractic Association)
- WebMD states that back pain can be a symptom of mechanical problems, injuries, acquired conditions and diseases or infections and tumors. (This information also appears at niams.nih.gov)
- “Injuries or disk problems are two common causes of back pain. But the exact cause of pain can be hard to pin down and often remains unknown.” (Mayo Clinic)
Why do so many people suffer from back pain and how to prevent back pain?
The answers to both of these questions go hand in hand, because the reasons for back pain can often be alleviated by following some of these preventative measures.
- “Lifestyle choices can reduce the risk of injury and avoid aggravation of back injuries. Regular exercise, good posture, using safe lifting techniques and maintaining a healthy weight all can reduce the risk of back injury. Not smoking is beneficial, too. Smoking causes the spine to age faster, increasing the risk of back problems.” (Mayo Clinic)
- “One of the best things you can do to prevent back pain is to exercise regularly and keep your back muscles strong. Four specific types of exercises are described in How Is Back Pain Treated?. All may help you avoid injury and pain. Exercises that increase balance and strength can decrease your risk of falling and injuring your back or breaking bones. Exercises such as tai chi and yoga or any weight-bearing exercise that challenges your balance are good ones to try. Eating a healthy diet also is important. For one thing, eating to maintain a healthy weight or to lose weight, if you are overweight helps you avoid putting unnecessary and injury-causing stress and strain on your back. To keep your spine strong, as with all bones, you need to get enough calcium and vitamin D every day. …Practicing good posture, supporting your back properly, and avoiding heavy lifting when you can may all help you prevent injury. If you do lift something heavy, keep your back straight. Don’t bend over the item; instead, lift it by putting the stress on your legs and hips.” (National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases)
- The North American Spine Society has great preventative health information at KnowYourBack.org.
- The American Chiropractic Association gives these helpful tips to prevent back pain:
- Maintain a healthy diet and weight.
- Remain active under the supervision of your doctor of chiropractic.
- Avoid prolonged inactivity or bed rest.
- Warm up or stretch before exercising or other physical activities, such as gardening.
- Maintain proper posture.
- Wear comfortable, low-heeled shoes.
- Sleep on a mattress of medium firmness to minimize any curve in your spine.
- Lift with your knees, keep the object close to your body, and do not twist when lifting.
- Quit smoking. Smoking impairs blood flow, resulting in oxygen and nutrient deprivation to spinal tissues.
- Work with your doctor of chiropractic to ensure that your computer workstation is ergonomically correct.
- Using an inversion table like Teeter Hang Ups EP-960 has been shown in medical studies to decompress the spine and stretch our back and core muscles. Revitalizing the discs through the rehydration that takes place during inversion, combined with stretched muscles increases flexibility which is key to fighting back pain.