Low Back Pain: Why Is It So Common?


This question has plagued all of us, including researchers, for a long time! Could it be because we’re all inherently lazy and don’t exercise enough? Or maybe it’s because we have a job that’s too demanding on our back? To properly address this question, here are some interesting facts:


So, what are the common links as to why back pain is so common? One reason has to do with the biomechanics of the biped – that is, the two legged animal. When compared to 4-legged species, the vertically loaded spine carries more weight in the low back, shows disk and joint deterioration and/or arthritis much sooner, and we overload the back more frequently because, well, we can! We have two free arms to lift and carry items that often weigh way too much for our back to be able to safely handle. We also lift and carry using poor technique. Another reason is anatomical as the blood supply to our disks is poor at best, and becomes virtually non-existent after age 30. That makes healing of disk tears or cracks nearly impossible. Risk factors for increased back injury include heavy manual lifting requirements, poor or low control of the work environment, and prior incidence of low back pain. Other risk factors include psychosocial issues such as fear of injury, beliefs that pain means one should not work, beliefs that treatment or time will not help resolve a back episode, the inability to control the condition, high anxiety and/or depression levels, and more. Because there are so many reasons back problems exist, since the early 1990s, it has been strongly encouraged that healthcare providers utilize a “biopsychosocial model” for managing those suffering with low back pain, which requires not only treatment but proper patient education putting to rest unnecessary fears about back pain.

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