Eight out of ten Americans will experience back pain at some point in their lives and some of us will have back pain so severe it begins to interrupt our daily lives.
It’s important to gain a basic understanding of what is causing your pain and how to best manage it so you can continue to enjoy a full and rewarding life.
Back Pain Facts
Get Straight on Back Pain
While many back pain sufferers have serious back-health issues (like scoliosis or herniated discs), there are those of us that may experience lower back pain because we sit for 8+ hours a day hunched over a computer, we sleep on our stomachs, or we lift heavy objects with our backs instead of our knees. Below are a few facts to help you get straight on back pain.
- 8/10 Americans will experience back pain at some point in their lives
- Back pain is the second most common reason that Americans visit their doctor, second only to the common cold and other upper respiratory infections
- Lower back pain is the second leading reason for missed workdays among employees under 45 (the common cold is cited as the most frequent reason)
- In the U.S. alone, those suffering from back pain account for more than $100 billion a year in medical bills, disability claims and lost productivity in the workplace
Upper Back/Neck, Middle, Lower Back Pain
Upper Neck and Back Pain
- Upper back pain is not as common as low back pain because the bones and joints in this area do not move as much as they move in the lower back. Poor posture, muscle strain or injury are the likely causes of upper back pain.
- Neck pain can occur from the bottom of your head to the top of your shoulders. The pain can radiate to the upper back or arms and can be very limiting on the movement of the head and neck.
Middle Back Pain
- Middle back pain can be caused by an injury or trauma to that area, arthritis or a herniated disc. The pain can radiate to the neck, shoulders or ribs.
Lower Back Pain
- Low back pain results when there is a disruption with the tendons, nerves, joints or discs found in the low back. Causes include: poor posture, bad form or aging. The symptoms of low back pain vary from person to person.
Muscle, Disc, Joint and Nerve Pain
- Muscle pain happens when the muscle is over-torn or stretched. This results in inflammation and pain in the area surrounding the muscles.
- Discs are spongy cushions between the bones of the spine. These discs can move and cause pain by touching nerves. Obesity, poor posture and age are all contributing factors to disc problems.
- Pain can occur in the sacroiliac joint (located in the low back where the spine meets the pelvis). This pain can be a result of a number of conditions or diseases including pregnancy, arthritis, gout or anything that affects normal walking gait.
- A herniated or “slipped” disc in the spine places pressure on nerves in the spinal column. Known as sciatica, this intense pressure on the nerves can radiate from the buttocks down the length of the leg.
Acute vs. Chronic Back Pain
Acute Back Pain
- Acute back pain typically lasts for a few days or weeks. It is usually initiated from an illness, strenuous activity or trauma, but is unrelated to anything specific. Acute back pain can range from moderate to debilitating and may radiate to other parts of the body.
Chronic Back Pain
- Back pain is usually considered chronic if it lasts for more than three months. Chronic back pain can be as a result of injury, disease or stress on different parts of the body. Chronic pain may be described as an aching, burning or tingling sensation—sharp or dull.
To continue learning about Back Pain Solutions, read more about common causes of back pain.