May 3 2015
A fact sheet on lower back pain, America’s #1 injury.
Lower back pain is one of the most common medical conditions in the United States, ranking only behind heart disease and pulmonary disease in terms of burden to quality of life and mortality risk. And despite our advanced medical technology, the prevalence and severity of back pain has grown much worse in recent decades. But the good news is that doctors of chiropractic care specialize in diagnosing and treating the causes of all sorts of back injuries.
How prevalent is back pain?
Back pain is the most common physical ailment or injury that requires medical care.
It’s estimated that 80 percent of adults in the U.S suffer from back pain at some point in their lives.
And each year, 30 percent of the adult population will experience some sort of back pain.
In fact, each year, one out of every two people will experience back pain severe that it’s noticeable and debilitating enough to affect his or her quality of life.
20 percent of all people will suffer back pain that limits or affects their work, and 5 percent won’t be able to work at all.
How often do people go to the doctor because of back pain?
Actually, back pain is the most common reason for patients to visit their doctor or medical professional.
Each year, about 15 percent of the U.S. – around 50 million people – visit a physician with a complaint of back pain, a number that has increased steadily.
Acute back pain is the reason for 3.15 percent of all emergency room visits.
And 4 percent of patients are experiencing such acute symptoms that they need to be hospitalized.
A quick look at the back:
The majority of lower back pain occurs within the five vertebrae (known as L1-L5) in the lumbar region, which supports much of the weight of the upper body. In between the vertebrae sit circular, spongy pads called intervertebral discs that absorb the shock and protect the spinal column. Ligaments, which are bands of tissue, hold the vertebrae in place and tendons connect our muscles to the spinal column. Additionally, thirty-one pairs of nerves are connected to the spinal cord, sending signals of communication from the brain all over our bodies, and relaying data about sensation and pain back to the brain
How much does back pain cost us?
Studies show that as far back as 2004, the direct cost of treating back pain was already reaching $200 billion a year, and it’s only risen significantly since then.
To demonstrate the trend of increased costs, between 1996 and 2004, the cost of spine conditions increased by 49 percent.
Interestingly enough, the largest share of this cost increase was paying for prescription medications, not any kind of preventive care or more natural or holistic measures.
How does it affect job productivity?
Of course back pain takes a large toll on our ability to enjoy our lives, function around home and family, and leaves a gigantic medical bill. But it also costs us some serious money at the workplace.
Each year, more than 25 million people miss an average of 7.2 days of work due to back pain, which adds up to 186.7 million days of work lost per year!
Every year, back pain costs us about $22.4 billion in lost wages when employees have to miss work.
In fact, back pain is the most common reason for job-related disability and the leading reason for missed workdays; in one study, 62 percent of employees who reported work limitations cited back pain as the leasing cause.
What causes lower back pain?
There are different causes and forms of back pain, but these are the major causes and contributors:
Sprains and strains.
Accidents from falls, sports, work, etc.
Auto accidents and injuries.
Injured while lifting something heavy.
Age-related change of spine.
Improper posture and use of technology.
Being overweight and out of shape.
Or trying to work out too vigorously after a long layoff.
Intervertebral disc degeneration (discs lose integrity with age.)
Herniated or ruptured discs.
Spondylolisthesis, or lower spine slippage that causes a pinched nerve.
Scoliosis and other spinal irregularities.
How long does back pain continue?
Some back pain can be considered minor and will get better naturally in a few days.
But subacute low back pain lasts somewhere from 4 and 12 weeks.
Chronic back pain goes on for 12 weeks or longer, even after the injury or cause of the initial pain has been treated.
Even worse, about 20 percent of people who have acute low back pain develop chronic back pain, with symptoms that go on for at least one year.
What factors go into the prevalence of back pain?
Age: Lower back pain usually starts between ages 30 and 50 and gets worse with age, as people lose bone strength, muscle tone and elasticity, and intervertebral disc fluid naturally.
Fitness level: People who are overweight and/or out of shape tend to be more susceptible to lower back pain
Also, though well intention, people who are not used to exercising but jump into a strenuous fitness regiment often injure themselves.
Genetics: No matter how well we take care of ourselves, some genetic conditions, like ankylosing spondylitis, make us more at risk of back pain.
Occupational risk: Jobs that require heavy lifting or repeated stress on the spine or back of course see a higher instance of back injuries.
Sedentary lifestyle: People who sit in the same position all day at work and go home to the couch have a much higher rate of back pain.
Mental health factors: Believe it or not, some mental health conditions like anxiety and depression correlate with the prevalence and severity of back pain.
Text neck: The unnatural and strained posture we assume when staring at our smart phones and computers is causing an unprecedented rise in neck and back issues.
Backpack overload in children: While we all encourage a child read as many school books as possible, that doesn’t mean he or she should carry them all around in their backpack. In fact, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends that a child’s backpack should weigh no more than 15 to 20 percent of the child’s body weight.
How can we treat back pain?
Most lower back pain is mechanical in nature, caused by a disruption in the way the spine, muscles, intervertebral discs, and nerves piece together and interact. Therefore, the best course of treatment often comes from a chiropractor, who specializes in repairing and restoring those functions, as well as promoting total body health, a strong immune system, natural, holistic healing, and even proper diet and fitness. A trip to a M.D. or hospital will too often yield a prescription for synthetic drugs, which may mask the pain but fail to address the root problem and come with some serious side effects. Even worse is the over-diagnosis of dangerous and debilitating back surgeries being needed before other treatment options are exhausted.
If you’re experiencing pain in your lower back, back, or neck, come visit a chiropractor, first. He or she will be able to properly diagnose the problem and recommend rest, mobility and strengthening exercises, spinal adjustments, and even adjustments to your diet, posture, and sleep patterns in order to alleviate the problem, not just mask the symptoms.
Apr 8 2016
Why big purses and high fashion may be causing your back and neck problems
Go ahead and take out your bathroom scale. But instead of stepping on it yourself, we’re going to do something different today. Fetch the purse or handbag that you carried to work or out to do errands with you yesterday and put it on the scale. How much does it weigh? 8 pounds? Ten? Fifteen?
The reality is that purses and bags women are carrying around these days are bigger – and heavier – than ever, and that’s causing some huge health problems. Chiropractors and doctors even have a name for this serious health issue – The Pocketbook Effect.
The weight of just a purse might seem inconsequential, but consider that you carry it and hold it sometimes an hour or more every day while walking or standing. It’s no wonder that half od working Americans report having back pain, which we spend $50 billion collectively to treat and try to remedy each year. In fact, the number one disabler of people 45 and younger in the U.S. is lower back pain!
Why your purse is hurting you
What happens when you carry a purse? With all of the weight unevenly distributed on only one strap, the burden of the purse causes asymmetry in the body, particularly in the neck, shoulders, and spine.
Independent studies that surveyed 1,000 women who regularly carried purses found that a significant percentage suffered pain or health problems in these areas:
What happens to the body when we carry a purse?
It’s not just bearing the weight of a purse that is debilitating; it’s the alteration to your natural walking gait. When you shoulder a purse on one side, it throws off your natural walk with arms and legs swinging fluidly and evenly.
Over time, that puts your muscles at a severe imbalance, altering your posture. This puts more stress on the dominant shoulder (women tend to carry bags on their dominant shoulder, so on the right side if they are right-handed), causing the muscles – particularly the trapezius muscle – to become bigger.
It also causes the muscles in the spine to compensate for the extra weight, which often sends the opposite side of the spine into a spasm. That spasm can affect your supporting muscles and especially your lower back and sacrum (bone at the base of the spin,) causing stiffness and undue tension.
The long-term burden of carrying a heavy purse:
Due to that tension, stress, and spasm, women who carry heavy and/or ill-fitting purses or handbags often develop:
Arthritis in the neck
Scoliosis (curvature of the spine)
Full-blown degenerative joint disease in predisposed shoulders
Upper-back (trapezius) and neck (cervical paraspinals) muscles strain
Numbness and tingling in the arm from nerve microtrauma
What you can do to fix the Pocketbook Effect:
Switch shoulders periodically to avoid undue strain on your dominant side and balance the effects. You can remind yourself by switching every block or some similar system.
Pull a bag on wheels if you can’t avoid significant weight or you’re using it for work, travel, or the gym.
Texting or looking down at your phone while carrying your purse really compounds the damage, flattening out the natural curve in your neck.
Look for bags with wider straps, which distributes the weight over a larger surface area and reduces strain exponentially.
Wearing the bag diagonally (the strap resting on the opposite shoulder and the bag on the hip) helps the trunk bare most of the weight and protects the back.
Try not to carry your bag in the crook of your elbow because this will quickly cause tendinitis.
Make sure the straps of the purse fit your body correctly. If the bag sits too high up or too low, it will alter how you walk, bumping in your hips or stomach as it swings, and take you even more out of your natural gait.
Even better, try to use bags that have different strap options that let you hold it on your shoulder, adjust it for cross-body carrying, or hold it by the handles.
Reducing the weight of your purse:
Health professionals recommend never carrying around more than 10 percent of your body weight, and less than half of that for one-strap purses or bags.
According to studies, these are the biggest and heaviest items in women’s purses:
The cumbersome wallet.
Women often carry a wallet inside their purse, filled with heavy coins and way too many credit cards, gift cards, receipts, etc. Believe it or not that weight can really add up, so empty it out every night and take only what your really need for the day in a small wallet.
Huge key chains.
Unless you’re a janitor, you probably don’t need to carry an enormous snakes nest of a key chain. All of that metal starts to add on weight so go lighter and make two or three key chains that you can grab for different occasions.
Coupons, receipts, and business cards.
But aren’t these things just paper? They are, but that’s why we underestimate them when stacking them into our purse. Have you ever carried around a book? Those are made of paper, too, and they can get pretty heavy!
All of those plastic, glass and metal bottles, tubes, containers take up a ton of space and can easily add up to several pounds.
Some high-fashion purses and bags are ridiculously huge and cumbersome these days, especially designer brands with weighty zippers, studs, and the like. Of course you want to look good, but is insignificant fashion really worth long-term health damage and injuries? I’m sure you can find a purse that is light, comfortable and functional – and looks good.
By Norm Schriever • Uncategorized • Tags: Back pain, big purses, carrying purses and bags, chiropractic for back pain, fashion back pain, heavy purses, purses cause back pain, text neck, the Pocketbook Effect