Is low back pain really a problem?

How can back pain really be an issue if so many people experience it at one time or another during their lives?

In fact 70-90% of Australian’s will experience back pain at some point in their lives…and did they die? Well I dont have the data for that, but I’m going to assume they didn’t!

However, 2 in 5 people said that their back pain moderately interfered with their daily activites…so that could mean they skipped the gym, chose not to socialise, may have avoided lifting their child to hug them, or perhaps couldn’t focus at work. It’s also the second leading cause of disease burden in Australia!

Low back pain (in my opinion), is a problem because:

  • It interferes with your life - as per the examples above. Pain will get in the way of you getting the most out of your day, which can make you frustrated, miserable and crabby.

  • It exhausts the brain - pain over excites the brain leading to fatigue, mind fog, forgetfullness and iritability. Think loosing your keys multiple times a day, forgetting your lunch again, making a big mistake at work, biting someone’s head off at the traffic lights!

  • It can lead to depression - multiple studies have correlated the link between chronic pain (>3 months) and mood disorders. Logically it’s obvious, if you’re unable to fully engage with your family, friends and work for 3 months or more, it will have a negative effect on your mood.

“Most importantly…A previous episode of low back pain can be be the predictor of a future, more serious back problem.”

Pain is the last indicator of dysfuction, meaning that area hasn’t been functioning well for a while. If your car stopped working properly you would have it inspected by a mechanic, or know that it might be at risk of a breakdown.

Your body is the same. Through pain your body is saying that it is not ok and you will need to make a change. It could mean there is a lack of flexibility or a lack of strength which can lead to intervertebral disc issues like bulges or hip joint pain syndromes. If there is too much pressure on the area you can experience early bone degeneration which could put you at risk of an instable spine. Most seriously you could be putting yourself at risk of spinal cord damage!

Listen to your body and have your pain checked by a Chiropractor. It might be the best thing you do for your spine health!

References:

  1. https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/chronic-musculoskeletal-conditions/back-problems/contents/what-are-back-problems

  2. https://journals.lww.com/clinicalpain/Abstract/1997/06000/Chronic_Pain_Associated_Depression___Antecedent_or.6.aspx

  3. Raspe H, Matthis C, Croft P & O'Neill T 2004. Variation in back pain between countries: the example of Britain and Germany. Spine 29:101–1021.

  4. Williams FMK, Bansel AT, van Meurs JB, Bell JT, Meulenbelt I, Suri P et al. 2012. Novel genetic variants associated with lumbar disc degeneration in northern Europeans: a meta-analysis of 4600 subjects. Annals of Rheumatic Diseases. doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2012-201551.

  5. Manek NJ & MacGregor AJ 2005. Epidemiology of back disorders: prevalence, risk factors, and prognosis. Current Opinion in Rheumatology 17:134–140.

  6. Quittan M 2002. Management of back pain. Disability and Rehabilitation 24:423–434.

Dr Alexandra