1.5 billion people around the world suffer from chronic pain, making it the number one reason patients seek medical care. In fact, studies have shown that pain leads to more than 50 million lost workdays each year. The cost of pain, including medical bills and lost workdays, is estimated at $100 billion per year world-wide.
Back pain afflicts 31 million Americans at any given time1 and 50% of all working Americans admit to having back pain symptoms each year2. We spend $50 billion each year on lower back pain, and that only accounts for the more easily identifiable costs3. At a time when baby boomers are moving towards and past middle age we are seeing an ageing population ill equipped for the rigors of getting old. People are both living longer and moving less— a genuine recipe for disaster in our modern world.
Experts estimate that as many as 80% of the population will experience a back problem at some time in our lives4 and amazingly lower back pain is the third most frequent reason for surgical procedure.5,6 There are many options for pain relief—surgery, physical therapy, chiropractic, exercise, diet and more. The question is how many of them are effective and for how long? Most people are looking for an external fix and many are available. But most of these fixes don’t last because they are dealing with the obvious problem rather than the entire system.
Pain is associated with a wide range of injury and disease, and is sometimes the disease itself. Some conditions may have pain and associated symptoms arising from a discrete cause, such as postoperative pain or pain associated with a malignancy, or may be conditions in which pain constitutes the primary problem, such as neuropathic pains or headaches.
The costs of unrelieved pain can result in longer hospital stays, increased rates of re-hospitalization, increased outpatient visits, and decreased ability to function fully leading to lost income and insurance coverage. As such, patient’s unrelieved chronic pain problems often result in an inability to work and maintain health insurance.
When asked about four common types of pain, respondents of a National Institute of Health Statistics survey indicated that low back pain was the most common (27%), followed by severe headache or migraine pain (15%), neck pain (15%) and facial ache or pain (4%).7
Back pain is the leading cause of disability in Americans under 45 years old. More than 26 million Americans between the ages of 20-64 experience frequent back pain.7
Adults with low back pain are often in worse physical and mental health than people who do not have low back pain: 28% of adults with low back pain report limited activity due to a chronic condition, as compared to 10% of adults who do not have low back pain. Also, adults reporting low back pain were three times as likely to be in fair or poor health and more than four times as likely to experience serious psychological distress as people without low back pain.7
I know you are not just a number or a percentage but hopefully you can take heart when reading this because you know you are not alone. Though it does beg the question— why in the world are so many people in pain?
Knee pain, as a result of a maybe too advanced yoga practice, was my thing and after three surgeries and a year and a half physical therapy I took a step back to get some perspective. I was thirty-eight and fearing for my future. Was I destined to run on a cycle of activity followed by injury followed by surgery? Was it possible that I couldn’t return yoga if my knees refused to cooperate.
What I discovered in my search was the simple insight that the body is designed to work (walk, stand, sit, sleep) with a specific purpose and many of the people I subsequently met who were in the most pain took least advantage of the body’s amazing design.
To that end I created my CoreWalking Program which teaches a natural walking pattern that is easy to implement and can change the way you move and feel forever.
You can re-pattern your body for pain free living one simple step at a time.
Fifteen years removed from my third surgery there is no physical activity that I hesitate to do. I have even started playing ice hockey in my fifties and trust me, when I was thirty-eight and falling down the rabbit hole of pain, surgery and physical therapy, I didn’t see this in my future.
My strength as a teacher and healer lies in the specificity of my instructions so I invite you to do the exercises in the video and compare them to what you might have experienced doing them in physical therapy or an exercise class.
If you suffer from back pain and have been to physical therapy I will almost guarantee that you have done the exercises in these videos but I teach them in a way that might surprise you.
If what I teach resonates with you we have many resources for you to take advantage of with one, or all, of our CoreWalking Programs.
1. Jensen M, Brant-Zawadzki M, Obuchowski N, et al. Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Lumbar Spine in People Without Back Pain. N Engl J Med 1994; 331: 69-116.
2. Vallfors B. Acute, Subacute and Chronic Low Back Pain: Clinical Symptoms, Absenteeism and Working Environment. Scan J Rehab Med Suppl 1985; 11: 1-98.
3. Project Briefs: Back Pain Patient Outcomes Assessment Team (BOAT). In MEDTEP Update, Vol. 1 Issue 1, Agency for Health Care Policy and Research, Rockville,
4. In Vallfors B, previously cited.
5. Anderssen GBJ. Frymoyer JW (ed.). The epidemiology of spinal disorders, in The Adult Spine: Principles and Practice. New York: Raven Press; 1997:93-141.
6. In National Center for Health Statistics (1982). Surgical operations in short stay hospitals by diagnosis, United States. 1978. Series 13, No.61.7. National Centers for Health Statistics, Chartbook on Trends in the Health of Americans 2006, Special Feature: Pain. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hus/hus06.pdf.