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  • Writer's pictureModern Health Clinic

Back pain keeps many Canadians out of work

When you’re feeling back pain, it can be debilitating.

Some will take over-the-counter medication, while others see a specialist. But some experts suggest many people still ignore back pain until it is too late.

According to the Canadian Chiropractic Association (CCA), back pain is the cause of 40 per cent of work absences, following by being sick.

“Too many Canadians leave their injuries and physical disorders untreated until they are in significant pain which limits mobility and their quality of life,” Sasha Hamid, an associate chiropractor with the CURAVITA Health Group in Ottawa said in a statement.

Dr. Adrian Chow, a chiropractor based in Markham, says when it comes to back pain, many Canadians don’t take it seriously.

“Back in the day, if you had back pain, medical practitioners would tell patients (who have back pain) to get bed rest,” he told Global News.

“But now we know that’s not the case, because when you do that, it doesn’t help your back — in fact, it makes it worse.”

Back pain looks different for everyone. Chow says some people have one-off experiences of back pain or spasms that can be treated at home. Other people suffer back pain after manual labour, working out or even excessively using their back while lifting things up.

But for some, back pain can be chronic. “These days people don’t have time or choose not to prioritize it.”

The risk of not conditioning your back

Chow says most of the people that he sees in his clinic who suffer from chronic

back pain don’t focus on conditioning their back. He realizes being sedentary in an office space limits how much you can exercise your back during the day, but for those in pain, it should be a priority.

“As a result, our muscles in the back become de-conditioned, meaning they get weaker because they are not utilized,” he continued. And when you are looking for treatment options, it is important to actually focus on the back. Some of these exercises (listed below) include bottom to heel stretches, knee rolls and pelvic tilts.

Chow says most people know what they have to do to treat back pain, but they fall into cycles of pain.

“You have back pain but you’re afraid to move because of the pain. It becomes chronic over time. Your chances of developing other chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, cholesterol, blood pressure — all that increases as well.”

Both experts agree this still comes down to awareness. Erwin says in the past having back pain often lead to be shamed — and some people didn’t want to talk about it altogether.

Chow says education starts at a young age. He looks at examples of brushing teeth — something that is ingrained in people at a very young age. He wonders why back exercises or stretches and staying active altogether isn’t the same. “We have a spine, we need to do things to maintain it and prevent problems,” he said. “As a society, there wasn’t much emphasis involved in this type of preventive thinking for our backs and spine.”

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