Turning our backs on ineffective chronic pain treatments

January 23rd, 2020

What a pain in the… back

Desk Jockeys, those who sit hunched over their keyboards and clack away, frequently visit orthopedic surgeons and neurosurgeons.  Studies dating back from 1998 reveal consistent results with what we see today, where lower back pain is the leading cause of disability worldwide:

  1. Back pain is a leading symptom for doctor visits 
  2. Many who initially visit a primary care doctor for chronic back pain return for more visits 
  3. Increased epidural steroid injections, lumbar MRIs and spinal fusion surgery rates have not increased the effectiveness   

Back pain may result from injuries, slipped disks, wear and tear and the inevitable aging process. “Non-specific”back pain constitutes the majority of back pain.

“It makes a huge number of lives a misery,” according to The Economist. 

Those experiencing back pain often find themselves restricted in their day-to-day activities. Debilitating back pain is a leading cause of approximately 264 million work-loss days, according to the Bone and Joint Initiative.

A 2009 study conducted by the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine revealed astronomical increases in money spent on medical treatments for neck and back pain. But patients aren’t seeing effective outcomes. A 423% increase in expenditures for opiods in back pain offers little relief for those suffering, and continued use makes the pain worse. A 2013 Physician’s Weekly study estimated roughly $90 billion is spent each year on medical treatments for neck and back pain, without much success.

A series of papers published by Lancet in 2018 points out that even a lack of evidence doesn’t stop doctors from writing prescriptions for patients, according to The Economist. But some patients stop exercising.

You can do it! Get your back into it.

Many experiencing back pain often catastrophize the news into the idea that they have a fragile back and consequently avoid physical exercise. But avoiding movement only exacerbates the problem. 

Daily exercise, despite the flare-ups teaches struggling patients to persist despite the pain. Reuters revealed exercise may help lower back pain, or at the very least, make existing pain more manageable. Studies discovered that those who hit the gym are 33% less likely to get hit by lower back pain, with proper technique and an appropriate training plan, of course. 

The Fit Institute has your back. Check us out on Instagram @tfichicago or at our website to see how we can help alleviate any pain you may be experiencing.

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