5 consequences of untreated chronic pain in your back.
Chronic Low back pain affects tens of millions of Americans every year. Chronic pain ruins work, vacations, family time, sleep, even marriages. Medications are expensive, often have bad side effects, and sometimes need to be taken forever.
Drug addiction, depression, anxiety, as well as reduced quality of life, are all associated with chronic back pain. “Chronic” back pain is often considered to have been present for more than 12 weeks. Acute back pain is new pain. Acute pain, left to resolve itself, often becomes chronic pain. #nobueno
Further Injury. Chronic Pain in our back leads to changes elsewhere in the body. Most people call this “compensation.” Our bodies are intelligent and they adapt and change to try to make you more comfortable, to keep things stable, and adapt for the best function and movement possible. As you can imagine, those changes lead to more changes. Think of it as a pebble rolling down a mountain that picks up other stones as it descends and can lead to an avalanche. Structural compensation due to back pain always involves changes in joint function and position. Long term changes joints and movement lead to stress on the body and especially the spine in the case of adaptations to back pain. This stress may lead to new injury, new pain, new dysfunction.
Terrible Sleep. Nothing disrupts sleep like chronic pain. This affects your daily quality of life, it affects your energy, your stress level, your productivity, it impairs healing, and it triggers a vicious cycle of dysfunction. It’s very difficult to heal when you are not well rested.
Depression. Chronic pain (and illness) affect our mindset. It’s no fun and not practical to be in pain for any length of time. Pain is telling us we have a problem. It’s like our body’s smoke alarm, and we know that unless we stop the smoke, we’re going to burn. It’s mentally exhausting. It affects our relationships, hobbies, and those things we live for. Depression often follows the lack of hope and fear of the future. Additionally, common ways to deal with pain, like drugs, are not often on people’s list of things they want to do. Feeling dependent on medications that help pain, but not the source of the pain, is depressing as well. We only have so much time in this life. Spending it miserable is very upsetting.
Reduced Mobility. Because of the way that joints and muscles adapt by tightening and restricting movement, people with chronic back pain lose mobility. Think of your friends who have chronic pain issues. They move differently. They sit and stand differently. They get in and out of the car differently. The longer a person’s mobility is restricted, the more the body becomes accustomed to it. Letting bad function “settle in” is a HUGE risk factor for mobility and stability issues in the future.
Reduced strength. Pain will prevent strength outright. It will also reduce your ability to stay active that will in turn, lead to deconditioning and weakness. Research has shown that within 2 weeks of not exercising, your body begins to weaken. With chronic pain, you’ve already started this process of weakening. The longer it persists, the greater the impact on your strength. Strength plays a roll in resilience, resistance to injury, stamina, healing, and stability. Instability is one of the leading causes of injury in Americans over the age of 65. 1 in 4 people over the age of 65 die within a year of a hip fracture.
There is no reason to not seek care for back pain. But if you prefer to try to help yourself before seeking professional help, visit Dr. Lou’s Youtube channel for exercises and methods to help your chronic back pain. Improved function, strength, feeling, speed, mobility, and a number of other benefits are all available to most at a chiropractic office. If your efforts at home don’t work, call for help. Because chiropractors don’t prescribe drugs or surgery to their patients, but rather work to correct underlying issues through non-invasive “adjustments,” the problem is often corrected at the source, leading to no need for lifelong care for that pain.
Be optimistic, be hopeful, help is out there for your chronic pain. You can predict the future by creating it!
Dr. Lou Jacobs has been working with patients for over 20 years. With dozens of techniques to help with spinal function, it is exceedingly rare that people do not improve under his care or the care of Dr. Lou’s colleagues. All major insurance is accepted and affordable cash fees make care available to everyone.