Oh My Aching Back

You are still dazed from the sucker punch from your air bag. The head-on collision totaled your car. After a moment, you realize you survived—not a scratch—lucky you. The next morning you notice a creak in your lower back when you get out of bed. No big deal, you think—but it is.

Over the next few days and weeks, your back pain escalates to the point where you are unable to work, sleep, or do many other daily activities you may have taken for granted.

A Worldwide Problem

According to an article on Time.com written by Alexandra Sifferlin, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) claims lower back pain is the No. 1 cause of job disability around the world and Americans spend at least $50 billion each year on treatment.

Ms. Sifferlin’s article continues by pointing out that The Annals of Rheumatic Diseases recently published a study that concluded that one in ten people worldwide suffer from lower back pain.

Causes and Cures

Not everyone in the world injures their back in a car accident. Lifting, pushing, slipping, falling, carrying, pregnancy, obesity, and even sleeping on a bad mattress could lead to lower back pain. Children that carry overloaded backpacks to school have lead to a near epidemic of back pain among our youth.

Work-related back injuries are also common. Blue collar or white, tasks in nearly every industry could lead to lower back pain. Even bad ergonomics in the office can cause back injury; and left untreated, could end in permanent disability.

As prevalent as back pain is, treatment is the perhaps the number one problem. The number of treatment options suggests their limited effectiveness. Hot or cold therapy, OTC painkillers, surgery, and even acupuncture can bring relief, but there doesn’t appear to be a standard cure. Many people turn to opioids, leading to the possibility of addiction.

Effective Prevention and Treatment

According to the NINDS, regular exercise is the main key to prevent and treat lower back pain. Not only does exercise make it easier to maintain a healthy weight, but building muscle strength, particularly in the back and abdominals seems to be vital to lower back health. This is obviously a long-term strategy, over and above the short-term remedies above.

Additionally, public awareness of the nature and seriousness of lower back pain may lead to better decisions, particularly in the case of any accident. Ignoring any back pain after an injury could cause years of unnecessary pain, disability, and financial loss.

The study in The Annals of Rheumatic Diseases concludes, “Governments, health service and research providers and donors need to pay far greater attention to the burden that low back pain causes than what they had done previously.”

We all do.