Unfortunately for our patients, and for us as health providers, orthodox medicine is dismal at treating chronic back pain. Nevertheless, some simple guidelines and realistic expectations enable us to positively influence the management of this common and disabling problem.
The lifetime prevalence of back pain is about 80%, and nearly half of all adults in our population will experience a significant episode in a given year. It represents a huge cost to society in economic terms and to individual patients in terms of suffering and reduced quality of life.
The risk of current back pain is greater in people with weak abdominal muscles and those who self-report past or present poor general health. Risk is increased in people who perform regular heavy lifting; however, people who perform sedentary work are not immune from the complaint and may even be more likely to require hospitalisation.