Lower back pain is a bigger problem in Maine and elsewhere in the United States than you might think. It can be gradual and chronic. Or it can happen suddenly, while you are bending over to pick something up. Why does this happen? And what is the impact on society?
The nerve supply to the spine holds some of the answers to questions regarding pain. While you can feel some pain in the spine, the threshold for feeling it is relatively high. Sometimes tension that has been building in the muscles over time without being sensed consciously causes the back to spasm. However, more often stress and inflammation builds in the joints. At some point — perhaps when you are bending over– the body, specifically the muscles, protect an inflamed or misaligned joint by not letting you bend.
Recent brain scan findings from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine even suggest that it is possible to predict with about 85% accuracy whether low back pain will persist based on whether a patient has a specific marker in the axons that allow one’s brain cells to communicate. It’s believed that treatment with medication early on can make long-term chronic pain less likely.
If your back goes into a spasm, you may decide to wait it out, or you may seek prescription medication, massage, chiropractic treatment or another alternative treatment. But back pain is estimated to be one of the highest chronic diseases in the world. Treatment should not only address a single attack, but also the underlying joint problem that caused it.
As reported by the American Family Physician, primary care physicians see at least one case of low back pain each week. Those with chronic lower back pain are more likely to see their family physician than any kind of specialist, including both orthopedic surgeons and chiropractors.
Quality of life is not the only thing that is impacted by low back pain. The pain can be so severe it can affect a worker’s productivity as well. The American Family Physician estimates costs related to chronic low back pain to be as much as $12.2 to $90.6 billion every year for loss of work productivity, treatment costs and disability payments.
According to the Society for Human Resource Management, one in four employees reports pain in their lower back. Usually this results in sick days that cost businesses $51,400 in lost productivity and medical treatment every year, per 100 employees. In fact, employees who experience back pain take four more days off per year to deal with their pain than those who do not experience back pain.
The Georgetown Center on an Aging Society estimates that we lose 83 million days of work per year because of back pain. Adults with back pain may spend about 200 million days a year in bed.
As if it weren’t bad enough to have a reduced quality of life, adults with back pain have lower incomes. 26 percent of adults with back pain have an annual income of less than $20,000, as compared to 20 percent of all adults. They also seek more medical treatment — leading them to spend almost 2.5 times more, on average, than what adults without back pain spend. The income differences correlated with back pain are higher among younger workers, but older people are significantly impacted, too. Those who have already retired and have back pain have less satisfaction with their retirement than those who don’t have back pain.
If you believe your lower back pain or other injury is due to somebody else’s negligence, you may need the help of an experienced personal injury attorney to help determine appropriate theories of liability under Maine law. At Briggs & Wholey, our knowledgeable attorneys are available to answer any questions you may have. To schedule a free consultation with an experienced advocate, please contact Briggs & Wholey, LLC at (888) 596-1099 or through our website today.
More Blog Posts: