Back pain has been reported worldwide in approximately 24% of the population. In the U.S. alone, 8 out of 10 adults have experienced this at least once. Alarmingly, 80 million of our workforce claim to have experienced it.
Other than fall injuries, the most affected of our population are women over the age of 30 and people who are overweight.
Recent estimates show that administrative workers represent 38% of the statistics, and the most common complaint of those is in the lower back area. Adults lifting heavy objects account for 75% of back injuries. The most often heard reason for missing employee work is back pain. Poor sleep is a common side effect.
Are you convinced yet that back pain is a problem? Let’s dive deeper to learn more about this alarming condition, how to treat it, and how to avoid it.
How does back pain occur?
The back is a complexity of the spine, discs, muscles, ligaments, tendons, and nerves. Pain can be felt in any of these from an injury of lifting incorrectly or falling, structural deformities like scoliosis, inflammation, or a medical condition such as fibromyalgia.
Are there different types of back pain?
Any pain can be acute or chronic. Examples of acute back pain are strain, sprain, spasm, infection, or even kidney stones. Acute is typically sudden, sharp, and specific. It can last for days or weeks. Chronic is that of a longer duration (3 months or more). It can result from aging, a condition, or a severe injury. Some examples of chronic back pain are arthritis, bulging discs, or spondylitis.
What treatment is available if I don’t want surgery?
Physical Therapy helps strengthen muscles for more significant support. Over-the-counter NSAIDs may relieve discomfort; however, long-term use is not advisable. RICE (rest/ice/compression/elevation) or heat therapy may temporarily relieve pain.
Fortunately, modern technology has provided pain management physicians with many options for treating more severe conditions. Here are a few:
- SCS, or Spinal Cord Stimulation, is a technology where a small device is placed under the skin to send a mild pulse through the spinal cord. When turned on, the SCS stimulates the nerves in the area of pain.
- RFA, or Radiofrequency Ablation, uses radio wave energy to heat small areas of nerve tissue. The power prevents the transmission of pain signals. RFA is helpful for arthritis, degenerative disc disease, and herniated discs.
- Sacroiliac Joint Fusion can reduce pain and instability caused by sacroiliac joint inflammation.
- Peripheral Nerve Stimulation is similar to SCS, except the mild electrical currents direct to nerves outside of the spinal cord.
Are there options for Failed Back Surgery Syndrome?
Absolutely. While FBSS is a challenging condition, there is help. Conservative treatment would include Physical Therapy, nerve blocks, and SCS (spinal cord stimulation).
What can I do to avoid back pain?
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- A proper diet that includes calcium and Vitamin D will help to preserve bone health.
- Avoid lifting heavy objects; when lifting, use proper technique. Bend from the knees.
- Use proper posture when sitting.
- Get up and move! Don’t be a couch potato. Recent studies have shown that sitting for an extended time is a health hazard, worse than smoking.
- Speaking of smoking – If you smoke, stop. Smoking causes a myriad of harmful conditions that contribute to back problems.
- Strengthen the back muscles. Yoga, swimming, Tai Chi, and weight lifting are excellent low-impact physical activities.
- Avoid falls. Wear shoes with support and clear clutter in the home and at workplace.
- Ladies, carry a handbag with a strap that fits over your neck rather than your shoulder. A weighted purse on the shoulder places stress on your back and creates a bad posture.
What to do if you experience back pain?
For any pain lasting more than a few days, it is essential to consult your physician for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.
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