Low back pain affects 85% of the working population, and 80% of Canadians will suffer from low back pain in their lifetimes. In a recent Environics poll, nearly two-thirds of adults in Canada said they experienced moderate to severe back pain in the past year, causing them to lose anywhere from a day to more than a month off work.
Health Canada estimated that musculoskeletal disorders, including back pain, cost society $16.4 billion in combined direct (treatment and rehabilitation) and indirect (lost productivity) costs.
Back pain is a leading cause of prescription (and non prescription) drug use, medical visits, hospitalizations and restricted physical activity. In Ontario alone, back pain accounts for one-third of lost work claims, according to the Institute of Work and Health.
The main causes of back pain are: improper lifting, carrying heavy articles, sports injuries, poor posture, health conditions, and work related injuries.
Many ordinary activities, like working at a computer or driving, can lead to a posture that puts additional pressure on your lower back. By the time you feel pain, the problem has most likely been in the making for some time. In fact, in 1999, Canadians spent $21.5 million on back pain products. Yet while many of these avenues offer relief, they may not get to the root of the problem.
Back pain affects Canadians of all ages, and slightly more women than men. Their effect has the greatest impact on adults under 45, and is only second to arthritis in those 45 to 65 years of age. For them, it’s the number one cause of limited activity, keeping them from work, out of the game, and away from the garden.
The findings also show that almost half the people asked said that coping with back pain made it more difficult to concentrate on everyday tasks – which means not just dealing with the pain, but also having to manage the disruption it causes in their life and the lives of those around them.
Almost nine out of 10 Canadians rated back pain as an important public issue. While some people treat only their pain, others ignore it altogether, dismissing its severity or thinking it will just go away. But because so many people’s everyday activities contribute to the problem, backs are routinely and repeatedly exposed to risks. And the reality is that ignoring the problem doesn’t make it go away. In fact, it can make it worse. For Canadians suffering from back pain, getting back on their feet means taking an active role in treating not just the symptoms, but also the problem. And to help them, chiropractors are able to offer a variety of treatment options.
Common questions about low back pain
How do you get back pain? One of the most common causes of low back pain (LBP) is an overuse syndrome that creates muscular pain. However, other significant causes of low back pain include direct trauma, lifting and twisting, age-related changes creating degeneration, and postural stresses.
How is it treated? Chiropractors are practitioners of choice when it comes to back pain, and have a high rate of patient satisfaction. About four million Canadians consult a chiropractor each year. Joint manipulation and home-based exercises are the best first line treatment options for most causes of LBP; a supervised chiropractic program is beneficial.
Three recent reports have concluded that increased utilization of chiropractic care can contribute to improved productivity and reduce benefit costs.
As well, patients treated by a chiropractor for back pain returned to work sooner and had reduced rates of chronic problems and hospitalization.
Reports demonstrate that chiropractic is a more effective – and more cost-effective – care for occupational and non-occupational back injuries and related conditions than other common forms of treatment. And chiropractic can play an even greater role in improving organizational health and productivity, and reducing absenteeism and disability.
Is lower back pain really a serious problem? First of all, if it makes life more difficult for you, that’s serious in itself. Even if it goes away in a few days, you haven’t really gotten rid of the problem. It will most likely return and if left untreated, could be more debilitating the next time, which is why we recommend seeing a chiropractor at the first sign of back pain.
Lower back pain can also be accompanied by a variety of symptoms, some of which indicate very serious problems. Do you currently have, or have you ever had:
• Leg pain with numbness, tingling and/or weakness?
• Back of leg pain with coughing or sneezing?
• Difficulty standing up after sitting for any period of time?
• Morning stiffness?
• Pain after extended walking?
• Pain in your hip, buttock, thigh, knee or foot?
If you’ve answered “yes” to any of these symptoms, it’s time you got help from a doctor of chiropractic. What will a chiropractor do?
Chiropractors use highly specialized, hands-on healing techniques (called adjustments) to correct spinal problems and offer long-term relief.
Your first visit will include neurological, orthopedic and chiropractic examinations, and if necessary, an x-ray may be recommended to assist in diagnosing your problem.
Once your chiropractor fully understands your condition he’ll give you a complete explanation of your test and x-ray results, along with an effective plan of treatment. Next step? Relief!
How does it work? Through chiropractic adjustments, your body is given the opportunity to heal itself. That’s because once the spine is properly aligned, your entire nervous system can work the way it was intended. Health is restored naturally to your lower back and your whole body.
But long-term relief from back pain is a team effort. There’s plenty you can do as well. Consider a healthier lifestyle, moderate exercise, a well-balanced diet, and improving your posture. Your chiropractor will do the rest by providing your body with the necessary adjustments to help your spine be healthier and stay healthier so you can get back on track.