Chronic back pain is a big issue in developed countries. Worldwide, it’s one of the leading causes of disability. It can prevent people from engaging in everyday activities and work.
In developed countries, it is one of the most common reasons why people skip work. Even half of Americans admit that they suffer from back pain at least once a year. All of these sums up to over 264 million lost workdays in just a single year.
According to researchers, even more than 80% of the US population is going to experience some back pain within their lives. While age can intensify the risk of back pain, this problem affects people of all ages, including adolescents.
Statistics show that most cases of back pain are non-organic or mechanical. That means the problem is not caused by severe conditions, such as cancer, infection, or fracture. That also suggests the pain can be avoided or reduced by changing lifestyle.
The most common is the pain located in the lower back. While most people recover from it, some are going to suffer from chronic and reappearing discomfort.
Problems with back disability increased by 54% between 1990 and 2015. That shows that the problem is also caused because of the lifestyle most people lead.
Chronic back pain generates a lot of costs. Each year, Americans spend at least $50 billion to treat back pain. The lost wages and decreased productivity increase this amount by more than $100 billion.
What Causes Back Pain?
Your back is a complicated structure. It is a great working mechanism built from bones, ligaments, joints, and muscles. There are many things that can cause temporary or chronic pain: strained muscles, ruptured disks, sprained ligaments, etc.
Some of the pains can be caused by mechanical injuries that occur as an effect of sport or accidents. If you keep poor posture while standing or sitting, you can strain your muscles and feel pain. Additionally, conditions such as arthritis can add to the problem.
Back pain can also be triggered by psychological stress. It can also be a signal that some disease is developing in one of your internal organs, for example, blood clots, kidney infection, bone loss, or kidney stones.
Connection Between Opioids Epidemic and Chronic Back Pain
The opioids epidemic led to a reconsideration of the conservative approach to lower back pain. In the past, doctors often prescribed opioids to fight back pain. Usually, back pain is a symptom rather than a problem itself. This is why taking opioids to reduce pain was a vicious cycle that made many people addicted to those substances.
As a result, nowadays many doctors recommend some alternative therapies that can help with reducing, or even eliminating the pain. Some of the most common are massages, acupuncture, chiropractic, and heat therapy. Research suggests that only when those alternative treatments don’t bring any relief, patients should move to painkillers, such as ibuprofen.
As the risk of addiction and overdose of opioids is very high, it should be the very last resort for people who suffer from chronic pain.
Why Do Developed Countries Have Such a Big Problem with Chronic Pain?
While back pain can be triggered by many factors, one of the most common is the way people live. People from developed countries often suffer from back pain because of:
The human body is not used to sitting for a prolonged amount of time. Yet, most people have a sedentary lifestyle. Office work requires constant sitting, without many breaks for stretches. Additionally, some office spaces are not ergonomic and adjusted to individual bodies’ needs. As most people spend their days sitting, the risk of chronic back pain significantly increases.
In most developed countries, the pace of life is very fast. The rat race and the fear of missing out can cause tremendous stress. When the body is tense, and the mind is restless, chronic pain can appear. It is not a signal of physical disease but an alarm that your mind needs a break, and you should slow down.
Many developed countries face the problem of obesity. Irregular eating times, sedentary lifestyle, stress, and lack of movement add up to the problem. The spine is responsible to keep the posture straight. The bigger weight it has to carry, the more strained it can get. This is why obesity can cause chronic back pain.
Ways to Prevent Chronic Pain and Spinal Injuries
Exercise can improve your overall being, but also help you to reduce and prevent chronic pain. Reach for a physician’s help to get a set of exercises that would be best for you. They should be tailored to your specific needs and address your problem.
You can prevent pain by being conscious about the products that you eat. Food that has a high level of trans fats or refined sugar can be inflammatory. The more your food is processed, the higher is the risk of inflammation.
If you smoke, try to quit. It’s proven that nicotine can accelerate pain and delay healing.
When you suffer from chronic pain, listen to your body and accept the limitations that you face. When you feel that you are getting to the moment when pain takes over, take a break. You can also make a list of activities that increase your pain and then try to avoid them if unnecessary.
That way you not only reduce the risk of pain but also prevent some underlying injuries from advancing.
Before deciding on surgery, check out all possible alternative therapies. You can try massages, acupuncture, laser therapy, or even aromatherapy or meditation.
Is Surgery the Only Solution?
Invasive surgery should be your last choice. Even if all the mentioned therapies failed you, you still have some choice. You can prevent the pain with an innovative spine surgery implant. The TOPS is an implant device. A surgeon puts it in the place where bony and soft tissues were located before removing them during spinal decompression surgery. It’s proven that this method can bring pain relief and increase the patients’ living quality.