When most people think of the effects of back pain, the first thing that comes to mind is the physical problems it causes. Back pain can be debilitating, uncomfortable and limiting. However, there’s more to back pain than just the physical side. The financial costs associated with prolonged, untreated back pain is something that often gets overlooked, but you can’t afford to ignore it.
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A Widespread Problem
Back pain is very common. In fact, it’s one of the top three reasons patients visit the doctor. According to one study, 80% of people will suffer from low back pain at some point in their life.
This is largely due to the way that we’ve been conditioned to live. Sitting for long periods of time hunched over a desk can cause severe damage to your spine. Inactivity, a lack of mobility and poor posture have become common for children and adults. As a result, back pain is starting to become more common as well.
How Much is Spent on Back Pain Each Year
One study found that we spend over $86 billion treating back and neck pain every year. That is more than almost any other medical condition. This can range from hospital visits to an appointment at the doctor to examine a sore back. And to make matters worse, the amount spent each year on back pain continues to rise.
Back Pain at Work
The cost of back pain hits hard in the workplace. For workers who have labor intensive jobs or spend most of their day on their feet, back pain often leads to missed work days. In fact, one study found that back pain accounts for approximately 11% of missed work days.
These costs aren’t only taken on by employees, but employers as well. Back pain in workers between the ages of 40-65 cost employers an estimated $7.4 billion each year. As we get older and our bones weaken, we’re more susceptible to injury. For older adults working jobs that require them to be very active, this can be a major concern.
An Avoidable Expense
Despite the large amount being spent on back pain each year, it’s important to realize that it doesn’t have to be this way. By taking care of your back and taking proper precautions, you’ll be able to have fewer visits to the doctor or hospital for back pain.
A large part of the problem is that patients are attempting to live with the pain, rather than seek treatment early. It’s because many patients have become accustomed to having pain in their lower back even though chronic back pain is not normal. Choosing to ignore your back pain rather than seek treatment can cause your condition to worsen and reach a point where surgery may be necessary.
When you’re able to have your pain diagnosed early, minimally invasive pain management procedures such as injections or even physical therapy can have a much higher success rate.
Tips to Relieve Back Pain
If you’re suffering from back pain, or want to avoid injury, here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Maintain a healthy diet and weight: Being overweight can put extra pressure on your spine. And not getting enough vitamins and nutrients can weaken your bones, making your back more susceptible to being injured
- Stay active: Inactivity is an easy way to start experiencing back pain. Make sure you’re exercising regularly and if you work at a desk job take constant breaks throughout the day.
- Stretch before physical activities: Back injuries during physical activities are often the result of not warming up. Taking your body from a state or rest directly into intense movements makes it easy to be injured. Whether you’re exercising, gardening, or going for a walk, stretch first.
- Quit smoking: Smoking can interrupt your body’s blood flow, which prevents oxygen and nutrients from getting to the spinal tissues.
- Wear comfortable shoes: Opt for low heeled shoes that are comfortable and give you adequate support.
- Choose the right mattress: It’s recommended that you use a mattress that has medium firmness in order to keep your spine aligned when you sleep.
- Don’t lift with your back: Most people have the habit of bending over to pick up items. This is an easy way to injure yourself. Instead, squat down and lift with your legs, which puts less pressure on your back.
- Correct your posture: Keep your back straight when walking or sitting. Being hunched over causes your spine to be stuck in an unnatural state, which results in pain.
Experiencing back pain? Contact a pain management specialist to diagnose the source of your pain and develop a custom treatment plan. Early treatment can significantly decrease the cost of back pain, and help you live a more comfortable life unrestricted by pain.