If you have chronic back and neck pain, you may feel like you’re alone. In reality, this is far from the case. In fact, there’s new research showing one out of every four Americans has been living with back or neck discomfort for at least five years, and nearly 20 percent say they’ve had pain of this nature for more than a decade. Based on input from 2,000 adults, a recent survey produced some interesting insights about the causes of chronic back and neck pain.

The survey revealed that 80 percent of respondents reported having back or neck pain at some point in their lives. Also, 70 percent of those questioned said spine-related problems impacted their normal activities. If this is the case for you, the first step to take is to get an accurate diagnosis—which usually involves a physical exam and image tests—from your doctor or a Santa Monica spine surgeon.

Heavy Lifting Is the Top Culprit

Nearly 60 percent of respondents surveyed cited heavy lifting as the reason they believe they’re experiencing back and/or neck pain. Avoid this source of spine pain by:

• Bending at your hips and knees
• Squatting down to lift heavy items
• Keeping the load close to your body
• Not twisting or turning as you lift

Work-Related Issues Can Be a Factor

Approximately 56 percent of respondents said their work environments aggravated their discomfort. If this is the way you feel, consider using an ergonomically designed workstation and chair or back/neck cushions.

Sitting for Too Long Can Have a Negative Impact

Just over half of the respondents cited sitting for too long each day as a factor that contributed to their spinal discomfort. One way to address this problem is to make an effort to take periodic breaks to stand up, walk around, or stretch.

There’s Such a Thing as Too Much Standing/Walking

More than 40 percent of the individuals questioned believed their long-term discomfort was due to too much standing or walking during their days. If this is the way you feel as well, consider the following adjustments:

• Take breaks to sit and rest if you find yourself standing or walking to the point where your spine is affected
• Use a lumbar support belt to ease stress on your backbone as you walk or stand
• Be aware of your posture as you walk or stand

Being Mindful of Your Mattress Matters

Nearly 30 percent of respondents attributed their chronic pain to poor mattress quality. If upgrading to a new mattress isn’t in your budget, consider a body pillow or wedge pillow instead.

Office Chairs Should Be Adjusted or Upgraded

About 25 percent of those surveyed had issues with their office chairs. Should this be a problem for you, consider an ergonomically designed chair or one that can be adjusted as necessary throughout your day.

Activities Should Be Modified (if Possible)

Lastly, 20 percent of the adults questioned attributed their discomfort to daily activities such as walking up stairs. If this is an issue for you, modify your activities as much as possible so you’re not placing too much stress on the part of your spine that’s affected.

What Can You Do About Chronic Back & Neck Pain?

The good news is chronic back and/or neck pain is often manageable with conservative treatment options that don’t involve surgery. Common treatment recommendations include:

• Hot/cold applications
• Massage therapy and/or chiropractic adjustments
• Therapeutic physical therapy exercises
• Pain and/or anti-inflammatory medications
• Therapeutic injections

If conservative treatments aren’t effective, you may be a good candidate for stabilization surgery or a decompression procedure such as a foraminotomy. Santa Monica patients can gain peace of mind from knowing that many common procedures performed today involve less invasive techniques that often have fewer risks and shorter recovery periods.

The Spine Institute Center for Spinal Restoration in Santa Monica is home to a team of highly qualified spine specialists who can determine the source of your back or neck pain and help you decide which treatment option is right for you. To learn more about The Spine Institute or possible treatments, please call (310) 828-7757 and schedule an in-person consultation.