Chronic pain is one of the most common reasons adults seek medical care and is often linked to restrictions in mobility and daily activities. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), up to 40 percent of American adults live with some degree of chronic pain.
September marks National Pain Awareness Month, an observance that helps draw attention to the wide range of treatments available to help chronic pain sufferers lead normal lives.
Chronic back pain is one of the most common conditions requiring some form of treatment. Eduardo Icaza, M.D., a board-certified anesthesiologist and pain management specialist at Miami Neuroscience Institute, part of Baptist Health, explains why back pain is so common.
Common causes of chronic pain
“Most Americans will at some point experience an episode of back pain that will most likely resolve with a few weeks of conservative care,” Dr. Icaza said. “There are several reasons why back pain is very common. First, the spine has many moving parts, discs, and nerves and, therefore, several areas where narrowing or inflammation could develop.”
A sedentary lifestyle is another important factor, he said. “In our modern life, we spend a lot of time sitting. We sit in front of the computer, in the car, on the couch, or at the table. Sitting for a long time without standing up or exercising regularly can weaken our core muscles.” Strong core muscles including the abdominals, back, hip, and pelvic muscles can help prevent back pain.
In addition, people are living longer, Dr. Icaza said, and “as we age we tend to see more age-related degenerative changes.” Diseases can be underlying causes of chronic pain, such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and fibromyalgia. Persistent pain can also be due to serious health problems, such as cancer. Another cause of chronic pain may surprise many: smoking.
“One of the most common causes of chronic pain is tobacco use,” Dr. Icaza said. “Many patients know the harmful effects of smoking on the lungs and heart, but they don’t realize that habitual tobacco use causes less blood flow to our spine, muscles, and joints. Less blood flow, over time, results in worsening arthritis, joint degeneration, and chronic pain.”
Any medical condition that causes inflammation can be linked to chronic pain, the doctor explains. “Chronic back pain is not usually the direct cause of a life-threatening diagnosis, such as cancer or multiple sclerosis. Still, our goal is always to rule out the ‘scary’ causes and find the location and cause.”
Treatments for pain management
There are many conservative approaches to pain management, including some that start with healthier lifestyle choices.
“There are many different ways to manage, reduce and relieve chronic pain,” Dr. Icaza said. “Regular stretching and exercise are important to maintain mobility and muscle tone. The weight control can reduce stress on the spine and joints, as well as reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease. In addition, adequate sleep, stress management, and a healthy diet are key elements.” Please take a moment to visit TrendyDamsels to get more important information.