Our spines are remarkable – they hold us up and give us flexibility to move, bend and twist. However, back pain can be a common source of distress for many people. Most back pain is usually resolved within a few weeks or months but pain that lasts longer than three months is described as ‘chronic’. Here are some things you should know about chronic back pain, which may help you or someone you know.
Chronic back problems are common
Chronic back problems are more common than you think. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, one in six Australians suffer from chronic back problems.  This means many of us will suffer from some form of back pain at some point in our lives.
Chronic pain can be distressing
People with chronic back pain can often find it hard to undertake normal daily activities and this can affect general outlook on life. Chronic pain can create a perception of harmfulness, which may lead to reduced physical activity and a sense of disability or helplessness. 
Chronic pain conditions are commonly associated with insomnia. Poor sleeping patterns and lack of sleep can exacerbate pain and impact quality of life. A study shows increased prevalence of insomnia among patients with chronic back pain (56%) compared with the general population (10%). Sleep loss and sleep fragmentation causes pain and increased inflammatory response which may worsen the symptoms. 
Take steps to better health
Chronic back pain can be difficult to live with but there are steps you can take to manage or prevent symptoms.
- Keeping active can have a big impact on your spinal health and overall well-being. People with chronic back pain should try to stay as active as possible to keep their spine moving. Walking just 30 minutes a day can help improve health and well-being.
- Quit smoking. Smoking reduces blood flow to the spine and causes cell damage which can contribute to spinal disc degeneration.
- Incorporate stretching into your daily routine. Stretching can relieve strain and improve circulation to the back. Seek advice from your chiropractor or other health professional on which exercises or stretches are best for you.
Visit your local CAA chiropractor for more information on how they can help with chronic back pain and other spinal health issues.
For more information on maintaining a healthy spine, please visit the website of the Chiropractors’ Association of Australia (CAA) at www.chiropractors.asn.au
Chronic back pain is the theme for Spinal Health Week this year. Spinal Health Week is a health initiative of the CAA and is taking place on 22-28 May 2017. #HelpIsAtHand
 1 in 6 Australians have chronic back problems (AIHW). aihw.gov.au. 2017. Web
 Fernandez, Matt et al., Chronic low back pain and the risk of depression or anxiety symptoms: insights from a longitudinal twin study. The Spine Journal (2017): Web.
 Purushothaman, Balaji et al., Do patients with chronic back pain sleep well?. The Spine Journal (2008): Web