ROSEMONT, Ill. and DALLAS, March 2, 2010 – According to the Journal of Athletic Training, one in five Americans experiences back pain each year, and eight in ten will suffer from it in their lifetimes. To help reduce the incidence and expense of this widespread and chronic condition, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) and the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) are launching a public service announcement (PSA) campaign in March 2010, to spread the word. In addition, the two organizations have issued recommendations that can help individuals reduce the risk of back pain in their daily lives.
“We’re pleased to partner with AAOS on this much-needed campaign to raise awareness about back pain,” said Marjorie J. Albohm, MS, ATC, president of NATA. “We hope that by providing important information about back pain, we can help people lead fuller, more pain-free and enjoyable lives. As our PSA campaign reinforces, back pain should never just be ignored and there are steps you can take to prevent and treat it.”
“Back pain is a very common chronic condition as we age, and many people don’t know how easy it can be to reduce or even prevent it, even without drugs or surgery,” said Jesse Butler, MD, spokesperson for the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. “Some back problems are simple to correct, while others are more complicated and may require specialized diagnosis and treatment.”
In 2006, Americans age 40 and younger made nearly six million doctor’s office visits and three million hospital stays to deal with pain, according to the “National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey.” The “Health Care Utilization and Economic Cost of Musculoskeletal Diseases” report estimated annual direct medical costs for all spine-related conditions, 2002 to 2004, reached nearly $194 billion, with just over $30 billion estimated as the incremental cost directly related to back pain; annual indirect costs of $14 billion in lost wages also were incurred.
Guidelines for a healthier back
According to NATA and AAOS, everybody has physical limitations, which can often lead to body imbalances that, in turn, cause back pain. That’s why it’s important to identify problem areas and correct these imbalances through better posture, periodic exercise, strength training, and regular stretching to aid flexibility. AAOS and NATA offer these tips to avoid back pain include the following:
- Stay mobile –There are many ways to increase mobility including daily stretches or activities that increase flexibility and get the body moving in different directions. Try yoga, tai chi, swimming or Pilates to keep you limber.
- Warm up before physical activity – Keeping muscles warmed up and staying mobile will decrease the chance of injury. Engage in a low-impact activity prior to participating in sports or exercising.
- Work on strength training – Improving overall balance and flexibility will reduce stress on the back. Exercises should involve the whole body, especially the core muscles of the stomach, back, hips and pelvis.
- Don’t forget cardiovascular training – Physical activity - such as walking, swimming and running - for at least 20 minutes, three times a week, increases muscular endurance and cardiovascular fitness, and improves blood flow to the spine. Exercise also helps decrease daily stress that can tighten muscles.
- Straighten up – Correct posture doesn’t just look better, it feels better, too. Be sure to stand with your head up, shoulders straight, chest forward and stomach tight. Try not to sit or drive for long periods of time. When seated always remember to keep your hips and knees at right angles to one another and find a chair with adequate lumbar (lower back) support.
- Lift using your legs, not your back – When lifting objects from a position below your waist, stand with a wide stance and a slight bend at your hips and knees. Tighten your stomach as you lift and keep your back as flat as possible – do not arch or bend.
- Carry with care – When carrying heavy objects, keep them as close to your body as you can. Always avoid carrying objects on only one side of your body. With more and more Americans traveling with computer bags and carry-on luggage, it’s essential to adhere to proper carrying and lifting techniques.
- Get adequate rest – Select a firm mattress and box spring that do not sag, and try to sleep in a position that allows you to maintain your back’s natural curve.
- Improve your healthy lifestyle – Obesity and smoking are known to increase the incidence of back pain and decrease overall quality of life. Live healthier to reduce back pain.
- Build in rest breaks – If you are physically active or enjoy athletics at any level, remember to build rest days and rest breaks into your weekly routine. The body needs time to recover from activity, and adding these natural breaks will rejuvenate muscles and the potential aching back that can come from overuse.
AAOS and NATA Partner on PSA
Featuring volleyball players on the beach, the PSA headline reminds readers that “back pain never takes a time out.” It will be distributed to major consumer magazines and daily newspapers nationwide and appear on large, backlit ads at selected airports throughout the country. The campaign also coincides with National Athletic Training Month in March, which promotes the theme “Sports Safety is a Team Effort.”
The PSA campaign is the fifth in a series of annual print ads launched jointly, and have proven to be an effective way to disseminate critical health care information. Previous campaigns focused on prevention and treatment of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries in girls, prevention of falls among seniors, baby boomer injury prevention and youth sport overuse injuries.
For more information about the prevention and treatment of back pain, visit the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons at www.orthoinfo.org and the National Athletic Trainers’ Association at www.nata.org.
About the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS):
With more than 36,000 members, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, (www.aaos.org) or (www.orthoinfo.org) is the premier not-for-profit organization that provides education programs for orthopaedic surgeons and allied health professionals, champions the interests of patients and advances the highest quality of musculoskeletal health. Orthopaedic surgeons and the Academy are the authoritative sources of information for patients and the general public on musculoskeletal conditions, treatments and related issues. The Academy's 2010 Annual Meeting is being held March 9-13, 2010 at the Morial Convention Center in New Orleans.
National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) – Health Care for Life & Sport:
Athletic trainers are health care professionals who specialize in the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of injuries and illnesses. The National Athletic Trainers' Association (www.nata.org) represents and supports 30,000 members of the athletic training profession. Only 42 percent of high schools have access to athletic trainers. NATA members adhere to a code of ethics. NATA supports the right of all patients to have equal access to the services of athletic trainers through the Athletic Trainers’ Equal Access to Medicare Act (H.R. 1137). NATA’s annual meeting will be held June 22-25, 2010 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia.