Tuesday, October 14, 2014


Low back pain or pain in the lower back is a very common ailment in America, effecting up to ninety percent of Americans at some point during their lives. Up to 50% of the people who experience back pain will have more than one incident. Pain in lower back is not a specific disease; rather it could be a symptom of various different processes. In about 85% of the people who experience pain in their lower backs, no specific cause of the pain could be diagnosed even after a thorough examination. America approximately spends $50 billion annually on lower back pain. 

There can be a number of underlying reasons for this ailment but more often than not, no specific reason can be found and the pain eventually stops. 

·         Pain in lower back is second only to the common cold as a reason for employee absenteeism. It is also one of the major reasons why people visit the Emergency room in extreme cases or a doctor’s office for milder ones. It is also the second most common neurological complaint in the US, seconded only by headaches. 

·         For ninety percent of the people, even those who experience irritation in their nerve roots, experience an improvement in their within two months regardless of the medical treatment used or even if no treatment is done. 

·         If back pain stays for less than a month then doctors refer to it as acute and chronic if it lasts for a longer period of time.


The back is a complex structure and it includes joints, nerves, muscles, and bones. This is one of the reasons why sometimes it is difficult to pinpoint the exact reason of the pain.
In most cases back pain does not occur due to some serious disease or damage but by irritated or pinched nerves, minor injuries, minor strains or sprains. Pain in the back can also be triggered by regular everyday activities at work and home, or it can grow overtime due to bad lifting, standing or prolonged sitting. Some other causes of back pain are:

  • Excessive use of muscles, generally due to repetitive movements or sports
  • Driving for a very long period without a break or keeping your back hunched while driving
  • Over stretching
  • Twisting
  • Slouching
  • Pulling incorrectly, pushing, carrying or lifting
  • Bending in an awkward position for a long time 

Sometimes pain in the back can also develop suddenly for no obvious reason. Some people might just wake up one morning with it without any idea as to what caused it.

Risk Factors

Following are some of the factors that might increase chances of developing a back ache:
·         Depression – pain in the back can make people feel fairly depressed making them gain weight. This eventually leads to an increase in pain and more depression. 

·         Stress – it is believed that stress causes tension in the muscles of the back which can lead to pain.  Using medication that can weaken the bones if used for a prolonged period of time. 

·         Pregnancy – the extra weight the woman carries around can place additional strain on her back thus causing back pain. 

·         Smoking – smoking damages tissues of the back which might cause severe back pain. Moreover it can also be caused by the fact that smokers generally have an unhealthier lifestyle as compared to non-smokers which might increase the symptoms. 

·         Overweight – all the extra weight that fat people carry around their weight can put extra pressure on the back and spine. People should calculate their BMI in order to find out whether or not they should lose weight. 

In a number of cases back pain can be caused due to serious medical conditions. But more often than not it is the lifestyle of an average American that is the reason of back pain. 

 For more information on Dr. Joseph Mills, visit: www.westhillspaincenter.com or call: 631-659-2980


Shaw, T. Causes of back pain. Retrieved from <http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Back-pain/Pages/Causes.aspx>
Shiel, W. C. Jr. M.D, FACP, FACR. Low back pain. Retrieved from <http://www.onhealth.com/back_pain_health/article.htm>

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