Written by Jon Mercer in Diseases
Viewed by 84 readers since 01-18-2009
Eighty percent of the population will experience back pain at some time in their lives. In most cases, the pain is only temporary, but thirty percent will have recurring problems with back pain that can last for months or years. Healthcare costs for back pain sufferers cost Americans over $80 billion each year in lost work time and other expenses. A Journal of the American Medical Association study in 2008 found that adults seeking medical help for spine-related problems rose from twelve percent in 2000 to fifteen percent in 2005.
This same study found that back pain sufferers are spending more money on treatment as well. Patients average around $6,096 in treatment expenses, up from $4,695 in 1997 and all without patients seeing much significant relief from their pain. Studies also show that the US has the highest frequency of back surgeries of any developed nation. With approximately 1.2 million back surgery procedures each year, the US has more than double the rate of other countries.
Sprains, muscle tears, and spasms are common causes of back pain symptoms. Many professional health care providers are attributing the rise in back pain sufferers to use of personal computers. Leaning over to type or peer at the screen strains extensor muscles in the neck and the trapezius and rhomboid muscles that hold up the shoulders. Overuse of these muscles can cause irritations and spasms.
Older people are commonly more prone to back pain. Pregnant women are also more susceptible to experience spinal problems since they carry added weight. Children are not usually prone to back problems, so when a young person complains of back pain it is commonly associated with a spinal injury of some sort. Inactivity can result in back problems just as easily as an overworked back, weakening the muscles and result in tearing or pulling of the back and abdominal muscles.
For years doctors recommended bed rest for back pain sufferers; however, recent studies have found that people who suffer from back pain say that the symptoms worsen with bed rest. It seems that bed rest weakens the back muscles, slowing recovery time. But stretching and physical therapy can help speed up recovery. Putting on extra weight, also associated with inactivity, can also increase the problems and slow down the recovery process.
There is good news for back pain sufferers however; studies have shown that most back pain goes away on its own. For many minor complaints like muscle strains, most doctors recommend over-the-counter pain relief medication, heat to relax muscles, and ice to reduce swelling.