Back pain and other musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions affect a staggering number of people in Canada and around the world, so many that it can be considered an epidemic.
In Canada alone, these statistics from a 2009 report published by the Work Foundation are attention getting:
- 1 in 8 Canadians report having chronic back problems
- 12% of Canadians report pain or discomfort that prevents activity
- 31% of Canadians report activity limitations because of pain and discomfort
- 12% of Canadians missed work because of an episode of back pain
- MSK pain is the second most common reason for Canadians to visit a GP
- 25% of Canadians visited an MD because of an MSK condition
- 5 out of 10 Canadians experienced back pain in the past 6 months
- 11 million Canadians suffer from an MSK condition
- By 2031, an expected 15 million Canadians will suffer from MSK conditions
If you have never experienced an episode of low back pain, odds are that, at some point, either you or someone you know will suffer from an MSK condition. Further, if you have experienced back pain in the past, it is likely that you will suffer from another episode within a couple of years. While this doesn’t necessarily mean there is a serious underlying pathology, you may want to seek prompt assessment and treatment. Recurring episodes of back pain may be attributable to mechanical dysfunctions that can be managed with conservative care and even exercise.
Who is most likely to suffer back pain?
Various studies from around the world show that, while back pain can affect anyone, there are five triggers that are commonly associated with back pain and other musculoskeletal conditions. These include:
We can’t always control environmental factors or work demands, but we can make lifestyle changes that can have a huge impact on healing and prevention, such as quitting smoking, integrating regular exercise and movement into our daily routines, and eating healthy foods to help prevent inflammation.
In the coming weeks, this series will examine some of the daily habits and lifestyle factors that contribute to back pain and other MSK conditions, including smoking, sedentarism and general inflammation. We will also provide easy and practical tips to help you improve your musculoskeletal health and quality of life.