1 national health issue that needs addressing

1 in 6 Australians suffer from chronic back problems. During Spinal Health Week (22-28 May), the Chiropractors’ Association of Australia (CAA) is raising awareness about chronic back pain and encouraging Australians to seek help.

How big is the problem?

The impact of chronic back problems is considerable, for individuals and the Australian economy:

  • An estimated 3.7 million Australians suffer from chronic back problems.
  • While the burden of low back pain is ranked sixth in the world, it is ranked first in Australasia. [1]
  • In 2011, ‘back pain and problems’ were the third leading cause of disease burden in Australia. [2]
  • Around 70-90% of Australians suffer from lower back problems in some form at some point in their lives. [3]
  • Among people with a disability, those who have a chronic back problem are more likely (than those without a chronic back problem) to report limitations in relation to mobility, self-care, employment and social participation. [4]

What is chronic back pain?

Chronic back pain is a long-term, persistent condition. General back pain is usually resolved within a few weeks but back pain that lasts for three months or longer is described as chronic. Chronic back problems include pain which can be identified as a persistent ache anywhere on the back. Usually felt in the lower back area, chronic back pain can cause stiffness, soreness and inflammation. The pain may range from mild to severe, or from a dull ache to a sharp pain.

It is not always possible to identify the cause of chronic back pain. Although pain from a direct injury or medical condition (like a slipped disc or sciatica) may be easier to identify, chronic back problems can also result from certain lifestyle choices.

A sedentary lifestyle and poor posture can be risk factors for chronic back pain, due to prolonged strain on the spine. Chronic back problems are also associated with factors such as physical fitness, smoking, being overweight and occupation (for example, occupations which require lifting, bending and twisting). [5]

What can we do about it?

If you or someone you know is suffering from chronic back pain, don’t suffer in silence. Dealing with chronic back pain can be distressing but seeking help and taking small steps towards improving your health can make a big difference.

In the first instance, it can be helpful to seek advice from a healthcare practitioner and then focus on self-management in light of the advice received.

Keep active

Staying active is one of the most important things you can do to improve symptoms of chronic back pain and also improve your overall health and fitness. Incorporating walking into your daily routine is a good way to start. Download the Just Start Walking app from the app store to track your progress.

Improve posture

Over time, poor posture can distort the natural alignment of the spine. Improving your posture can help alleviate stress on the spine and may help chronic back pain symptoms. Download the Straighten Up (Australia) app to receive posture reminders throughout the day and follow the Straighten Up exercise program to improve your spinal health and strengthen core muscles.

Where can I get more information?

Visit your local CAA chiropractor to find out how chiropractic can help with chronic back pain and other spinal health issues.

For more information about chronic back pain, chiropractic and Spinal Health Week, visit www.spinalhealthweek.com.au

For more information on maintaining a healthy spine, please visit the website of the Chiropractors’ Association of Australia at www.chiropractors.asn.au

 


[1] Vos, T., Flaxman, A. and Naghavi, M., Years Lived With Disability Study For 1160 Sequelae of 289 Diseases and Injuries 1990-2010: A Systematic Analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010. Lancet. (2012). 380: p2163-2196
[2] “Impacts Of Chronic Back Problems”. Aihw.gov.au., 2017. Web.
[3] “What Are Back Problems? (AIHW)”. Aihw.gov.au., 2017. Web.
[4] “Impacts Of Chronic Back Problems”. Aihw.gov.au., 2017. Web.
[5] “Impacts Of Chronic Back Problems”. Aihw.gov.au., 2017. Web.

Leave a Reply