4 Things to Know About Low Back Pain (LBP)

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1. It’s a Common Problem

Low back pain (LBP) is a common problem in the United States. It is estimated that 80% of Americans will experience a significant low back injury in their lifetime. Annually, the problem affects about 15-20%.of the population. Other studies indicate that, at any point in time, about 12-33% percent of the US population have LBP symptoms.  Back pain is one of the leading causes of disability in the United States. It has been estimated that back injuries account for more than 264 million lost work days per year, which is equal to 2 full days of absence for every full-time worker in the United States. LBP is the third most common reason for visits to the doctor’s office, behind skin and arthritis disorders.  Back pain can affect almost adult at almost any age, but the most likely age for the first onset of lower back pain is in the third decade of life.  The highest incidence of all low back injuries occurs between the ages of 30 and 60.

2. The Problem Can Become Chronic

It is generally accepted that most episodes of low back pain resolve within two or three months of onset, but some studies have cast doubt on that assumption. A study from the British Medical Journal found that only about 25% of patients who originally consulted their physician about back pain had recovered within one year.  They also found that only a small percentage of patients continued to see their doctor for their back problem after three months, concluding that they simply decided to put up with their back pain!

The recurrence of LBP is common and, for a small percentage of people, their condition will become a chronic disability.  Studies indicate that the risk of becoming disabled from back pain increases when the initial back pain episode exceeds 14 days.  A study from 2009 showed that chronic low back pain rates rose significantly among North Carolina residents from 1992 (3.9%) to 2006 (10.2%).

3. Some People Are At Greater Risk For Developing Low Back Pain

Factors that increase the risk of developing this LBP include:  obesity, smoking, heavy manual labor, repetitive bending and twisting, exposure to whole body vibration (driving a truck, operating heavy equipment), stress, anxiety and depression. Having a sedentary job that requires a lot of sitting can also contribute to the onset of back problems.  A sedentary lifestyle can also delay recovery from an episode of low back pain.

The vast majority of LBP cases are mechanical in nature, meaning that the cause is due to a structural problem  with the joints, muscles, ligaments and nerves of the spine. A very small percentage of back pain can come from a serious problem such as an infection, inflammatory arthritis, cancer or fracture.

4. There is Help for People with Low Back Pain (LBP)

Fortunately, there is help for most individuals who suffer from LBP.  After a thorough examination, a doctor of chiropractic will be able to determine if a low back condition can be helped with chiropractic manipulative therapy (CMT).  Chiropractic has been shown to be effective for LBP in several studies. In one study, chiropractic proved to be more effective for the treatment of LBP when coupled with medical care compared to medical care alone.  Often, our treatment will include exercises designed to help improve spine function and strength.  These exercises can help to correct an underlying problem that led to the low back issue in the first place and, perhaps, prevent the recurrence of a back injury.

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