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Back Pain Facts & Statistics

(Source: American Chiropractic Association)
Man with back pain
Although chiropractors care for more than just back pain, many patients visit chiropractors looking for relief from this pervasive condition. In fact, 31 million Americans experience low-back pain at any given time.

A few interesting facts about back pain:

  • One-half of all working Americans admit to having back pain symptoms each year.
  • Back pain is one of the most common reasons for missed work. In fact, back pain is the second most common reason for visits to the doctor's office, outnumbered only by upper-respiratory infections.
  • Most cases of back pain are mechanical or non-organic — meaning they are not caused by serious conditions, such as inflammatory arthritis, infection, fracture or cancer.
  • Americans spend at least $50 billion each year on back pain and that's just for the more easily identified costs.
  • Experts estimate that as many as 80% of the population will experience a back problem at some time in our lives.

What Causes Back Pain?

Man playing football with son
The back is a complicated structure of bones, joints, ligaments and muscles. You can sprain ligaments, strain muscles, rupture disks, and irritate joints, all of which can lead to back pain. While sports injuries or accidents can cause back pain, sometimes the simplest of movements (for example, picking up a pencil from the floor) can have painful results. In addition, arthritis, poor posture, obesity, and psychological stress can cause or complicate back pain. Back pain can also directly result from disease of the internal organs, such as kidney stones, kidney infections, blood clots, or bone loss.

Manipulation as a Treatment for Back Problems

Spinal Adjustment
Used primarily by Doctors of Chiropractic (DCs) for the last century, manipulation has been largely ignored by most others in the health care community until recently. Now, with today's growing emphasis on treatment and cost effectiveness, manipulation is receiving more widespread attention.

Chiropractic spinal manipulation is a safe and effective spine pain treatment. It reduces pain, decreases medication, rapidly advances physical therapy, and requires very few passive forms of treatment, such as bed rest.

In fact, after an extensive study of all currently available care for low back problems, the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (a federal government research organization) recommended that low back pain sufferers choose the most conservative care first. And it recommended spinal manipulation as the only safe and effective, drugless form of initial professional treatment for acute low back problems in adults.

The American Chiropractic Association (ACA) urges you to make an informed choice about your back care. To learn more about how chiropractic manipulation may help you, contact a Doctor of Chiropractic in your area. Search our online database of ACA members to find a doctor of chiropractic near you.

Tips to Prevent Back Pain

X-ray of Spine
  • Maintain a healthy diet and weight.
  • Remain active — under the supervision of your doctor.
  • Avoid prolonged inactivity or bed rest.
  • Warm up or stretch before exercising or other physical activities, such as gardening.
  • Maintain proper posture.
  • Wear comfortable, low-heeled shoes.
  • Sleep on a mattress of medium firmness to minimize any curve in your spine.
  • Lift with your knees, keep the object close to your body, and do not twist when lifting.
  • Quit smoking. Smoking impairs blood flow, resulting in oxygen and nutrient deprivation to spinal tissues.
  • Work with your doctor of chiropractic to ensure that your computer workstation is ergonomically correct.

Sleep on a Good Mattress

Women Sleeping
Good health and sleep are closely linked. Just as we improve our eating habits for better health, we should also improve our sleep habits. Sleep debt is a costly problem in our society, both fiscally and physically. Sleep should be a priority and not just a negotiable need determined by our busy schedules. Good sleep not only reduces costly back problems but also helps to prepare us for a more productive, alert and safe day ahead.

Here are some tips to help you select the proper mattress for you:

  • Personal preference should ultimately determine what mattress to purchase. Any mattress that helps someone sleep without pain and stiffness is the best mattress for that individual. There is no single mattress that works for all people with low back pain.
  • Find a mattress with sufficient back support to reduce low back pain. A good mattress should provide support while allowing for the natural curves and alignment of the spine. Medium-firm mattresses usually provide more back pain relief than firm mattresses.
  • Know when it's time to get a new mattress. If an old mattress sags visibly in the middle, it is probably time to purchase a new one. Putting boards under a sagging mattress is only a short-term fix and may cause more back problems and low back pain in the long run.
  • Be wary of mattress advertising gimmicks. Claims that a mattress is "orthopedic" or "medically-approved" should be viewed skeptically. There has not been extensive medical research or controlled clinical trials on the topic of mattresses and low back pain. You must determine whether or not extra features on a mattress make it more comfortable or supportive for your back.
15043 Main Street  -  Alachua, FL  32615  |  386-462-5886  |  info@alachuachiropractic.com