How Common is Back Pain? | Prevalence and Duration of Low Back Pain

back pain prevalence

Back pain is actually really common. A question presented to me recently was “What is the prevalence of low back pain?”. There is a 90% chance that a person will experience at least one episode of acute disabling back pain during their lifetime. Most of the time this painful episode will last from a few days to a few weeks and in 90% of cases, it resolves completely within 4 – 6 weeks. In most instances, once the acute back pain episode resolves, it rarely occurs again. The spontaneous onset of this type of pain is often without an identifiable cause for the back pain, it just “happens”.

Characteristics of Acute Low Back Pain

This pain is deep and hard to locate. It can be very disabling and limit one’s ability to get out of bed or even tie one’s shoes. The intensity of this back pain is incredible and usually limited to the back without going into the legs. The pain feels inescapable and there doesn’t seem to be any comfortable positions.

Impact on Back Pain Daily Life

The impact on daily life can be profound depending on the intensity of the low back pain. If the back pain is severe, just getting out of bed might be excruciating if not impossible. Obviously, this type of extreme pain will affect every dimension of your life which includes all aspects of home and work life. Even if you can get your shoes on, getting in and out of the car might be impossible. There is no aspect of life, mental or physical, that is not affected. Work may not be possible, no matter what the job is.

Recovery and Healing

The fortunate thing is that 90% of this time, this pain will resolve and never return. The key seems to be the “passing of time” to allow enough healing to get relief from this pain.

Importance of Effective Back Pain Relief Solutions

  • Goal of Pain Relief: The important thing is to find an effective solution to relieve the back pain and get out of pain. The faster you can restore your life to a functional level, the better. The goal is to be able to move around without pain and move in whatever position you need or want to for the activities of daily living. Normal interactions with people can be reestablished whether at home or in the workplace. The goal is to be independent and not depend on others for your existence.
  • Impact on Mood and Attention: Back pain can also change your mood and shorten your attention span which is bad for relationships and getting things done in general.
  • Effects on Enjoyable Activities and Social Interactions: Activities that were once enjoyable are no longer able to be enjoyed. This can affect physical fitness as well as interfere with the social benefits of the activity. When enjoyable activities and social interactions are precluded by back pain, mental changes can begin to occur as a sense of isolation can begin to occur. Untreated back pain will change your personality and not for the better.
  • Seeking Pain Relief Solutions: It’s of paramount importance to start to seek out pain relief solutions as soon as possible, so you can continue to work, pursue pleasurable activities, and get the benefit of your social interactions.