Strengthen Your Spine for a Healthier Back
Back pain is one of society's most common problems. Pain affecting the back and neck varies from mildly irritating to debilitating. The facts presented below take on greater significance if you consider that 50% of people with back pain seek no formal treatment at all. They simply self-treat.
- It is estimated that more than 85% of people will experience an episode during their lifetime.
- Back pain is the sixth most costly medical condition, second leading cause of disability, and foremost cause of lost work days in the United States.
- Behind the common cold, back pain is the second most common reason people visit their doctor.
- Back pain is estimated to cost more than 70 billion dollars per year.
Half Do Not Seek Treatment
Why doesn't everyone with back pain seek treatment? Because many cases of back pain improve within the first few weeks with or without treatment.
Three categories describe back pain: acute, subacute, and chronic. Acute back pain gets better within six weeks. Symptoms lasting longer than six weeks, but fewer than 12 weeks, are identified as subacute. Back pain is labeled chronic when symptoms exist beyond 12 weeks.
If everyone experiencing an episode of back pain were represented by 100 patients, 80 to 85 people would get better within six weeks (acute back pain) regardless of the treatment method. This group accounts for about 10% of the total health care dollars spent on back problems. Managing subacute and chronic back pain is more difficult. Cases of subacute and chronic back pain changes the landscape. These patients often need and respond well to aggressive exercise therapies that include spinal muscle strengthening.
Why Strengthen Spinal Muscles?
Strength is the key to physical freedom to function the way we want every day. As children we freely ran, jumped and played without regard to the spine or its intricate muscular support system. Although the muscles are important to a healthy and functional spine, other spinal components work with muscles to execute static and active movement.
Figure 1. Various depths of the spinal musculature.