The average human lifespan is 79 years, although there are many things that can decrease the average, including obesity and smoking. Researchers in Australia are adding back pain to the list of factors that may contribute to a rise in human mortality rates. It’s not so much the back pain itself that reduces life expectancy, but a combination of other related factors that also affect overall health and wellbeing. The Beverly Hills spinal surgeons at The Spine Institute discuss this research and the factors that connect back pain with a high mortality risk.
Who Does Back Pain Affect the Most?
Part of the reason for the findings could be due to those most likely to experience persistent back pain. The two groups often affected by such discomfort are the elderly, who are may develop conditions such as degenerative disc disease and osteoarthritis, and individuals who are overweight. Higher levels of back pain are also seen in people who have less active lifestyles and those who don’t pay attention to their diet.
Spine Pain and Overall Mortality
Involving more than 4,000 twins 70 years of age and older, the Australian study evaluated individuals with and without back pain. Those who had back pain were 13 percent more likely to die sooner than those who did not report any significant discomfort.
Researchers are clear that the study doesn’t assume back pain directly contributes to increased mortality. However, they do believe there is a clear link between mortality and back pain as well as some other factors. They just aren’t certain what the connection is yet.
Back Pain and Lifestyle Factors
A similar study originally conducted in 2012 and updated in 2014 found a connection between chronic pain and an increased risk of dying younger. Other studies have suggested a similar connection with musculoskeletal pain. Back pain is among the most common of the chronic conditions people experience, and the way these conditions affect a person’s lifestyle may have a significant impact on mortality.
For instance, people with persistent back pain may stop being as active as they once were. With degenerative conditions, there’s often a tendency to avoid exercise because of a fear of triggering more pain. Conversely, individuals who live sedentary lifestyles may also be at a greater risk of having back pain due to weakened spine-supporting muscles. Because of situations like this, back pain may indirectly contribute to:
- Increased weight gain and poor dietary choices
- Underlying health conditions that affect longevity, including diabetes and hypertension
- A lack of sufficient recuperative sleep, which is necessary to allow spine tissues to heal
Most instances of back pain are preventable. For instance, non-specific low back pain can often be minimized by paying attention to posture, getting a good night’s sleep on a regular basis, exercising for a few hours each week, and following a diet that includes vitamin-rich foods and lean proteins. Also, knowing when to see a doctor can help minimize the risk of back problems going undetected and becoming worse.
There are a variety of ways to find relief for back pain, and people experiencing severe or chronic pain may want to consider minimally invasive surgery. At The Spine Institute Center, we specialize in variety of fusion and back fusion alternatives. Beverly Hills patients who are seeking relief for their back pain can trust in Dr. Hyun Bae to diagnose the source of their pain and help them start down the path to a pain-free life. Call 310-828-7757 today to schedule a free in-person evaluation.