Chronic back pain – Physiotherapy can help

  • 1 in 6 Australians have chronic back pain

Explaining Spinal Movement

Incidence of chronic back pain

An estimated 3.7 million Australians have chronic back pain (2014–15), according to a report released today by the Australian Institute for Health and Welfare (AIHW 2016). The report, Impacts of chronic back problems, explains how an individual’s quality of life deteriorates.  The impact on the community in terms of economic and disease burden is also high.

Development of chronic back pain

Chronic back pain is a long-term (6 months or more) health condition. Conditions include disc disorders (such as a herniated disc or disc degeneration); facet joint arthritis, sciatica and curvature of the spine; and pain not caused by another condition such as osteoporosis or osteoarthritis. Poor sitting posture, impairement of motor control, and dysfunctional movement patterns, are practical aspects needing change.

Effects of chronic back pain

‘People with back pain are around 2 times as likely to say they have poor health, high levels of psychological distress and severe bodily pain, compared with the general population,’ says AIHW spokesperson Ann Hunt. In 2014–15, around 9% of people with back problems stated that they perceived their health as poor, compared to just over 4% in the general population. ‘Almost 7% experience very high levels of psychological distress, and 4% experience very severe bodily pain. This is compared with 4% and 1.5%, respectively, in the general population,’ Ms Hunt says.

The report shows that 28% of people with a disability (around 1.2 million people) also have chronic back problems. ‘Among these people, those suffering from chronic back pain are more likely than those without disability to report limitations and restrictions. These disabilities are related to mobility, self-care, employment and social participation,’ Ms Hunt said. “43% experience limitations related to mobility, 28% experience limitations related to self-care, and 77% of those who are working age experience a restriction in employment.’

Chronic back pain is the third leading cause of disease burden in Australia in 2011. It accounts for 3.6% of the total burden across all diseases and injuries. The majority (78%) of people with chronic back problems are aged between 15–64.

(Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare)

What to do about your chronic back pain

See a physiotherapist to analyse your back problems then guide you to recovery. Helen Potter FACP

  • Learn real facts about pain
  • Check your habitual postures and sedentary habits
  • Discuss your sleep quality and learn helpful hints
  • Discover how to move more efficiently and confidently
  • Experience a feeling of empowerment

Helen Potter FACP

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