Back pain common U.S. ailment

Oh my aching back!

How many times have I heard—and uttered—that sentiment over the years? Now I find out that I am not alone—not even close. A recent news item from a source called News And Experts reports that back pain is one of the most common ailments in the United States.

Back pain has been a constant companion of mine for about 25 years, back to a day when I thought running barefoot on the beach would be a good idea. It was not. I spent about a week in bed after that ill-conceived little jog, and I’ve had frequent recurrences since. I also have arthritis—degenerative disc disease is how the doctors define it—that runs from my neck to my lower back. Most days, it’s an annoyance; other days, especially after a long day of waving a fly rod back and forth while standing in cold water, it borders on torture.

I’ve done physical therapy, chiropractor adjustments, over-the-counter pills, and stretches designed to limber me up. Nothing works for long, though if I stayed with a daily regimen of stretches I suspect I would loosen up a bit. But I seem to find excuses not to get down on the floor and do the drills. I promise I’ll start first thing Monday morning. Right.

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My inability to locate a magic potion to eliminate the aches and pains also is not rare. News And Experts quotes back pain expert Jesse Cannone saying: “multiple studies indicate that roughly 70 percent of back surgeries fail. The success rate for the most common treatments is pathetically low, so it’s no surprise people often struggle years or decades with back pain, with few ever finding lasting relief.”

As I read this release, I thought of the immeasurable opportunities farmers and ranchers have for creating, aggravating and suffering through back pain. Riding a tractor all day, even modern ones, likely puts a strain on back muscles. Bouncing pickup trucks over unpaved roads, to say nothing of terraces and bar ditches, can damage a disc, too. Wrangling cattle, pitching hay bales, working on equipment while bent in unnatural positions and the general wear and tear that comes with all the manual labor that’s endemic to running a farm all take a toll on the spine.

And farmers aren’t that good about slowing down, taking a few days off, resting up to let a sore muscle heal. They typically rub a bit of lineament on it and go back to the field. That’s usually not a good idea, even if it’s often the most expedient.

Cannone says back suffers typically make seven mistakes that prevent them or at least delay them from finding relief from back pain. These mistakes include:

  • Continuing a treatment that doesn’t work.
  • Failing to solve the problem the first time. “Take pain seriously the first time,” he recommends.
  • Thinking you’re too healthy or fit to have back pain. “Staying in shape is always a good idea, but it does not make you invulnerable.” (Running on the beach, for instance, may cause problems.)
  • Treating only the symptoms.“If you want lasting relief you must address the underlying causes.”
  • Not understanding that back pain is a process.Most of the time, the pain took weeks, maybe even years to develop. Accidents can bring it on rapidly, however.
  • Believing there are no more options left. “Often it takes a cocktail of treatments that address all the underlying causes,” Cannone says.
  • Failing to take control. He recommends learning all you can about the problem and how to fix it.

Cannone has written a book, The 7-Day Back Pain Cure, which I haven’t read so I will not recommend it to you. But I may pick one up and if it works, I’ll certainly let you know.


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