Did you know that 31 million Americans experience low-back pain at any given time?  That’s 10% of the population, every day!

Here are a few interesting facts about back pain:

  • 80% of the population will experience back pain at some time in their lives.
  • Back pain is one of the most common reasons for missed work.
  • Back pain is the second most common reason for doctor visits, outnumbered only by cold and flu, or respiratory issues.
  • Half of all working Americans suffer back pain symptoms every year.
  • Most cases of low back pain are mechanical and are not usually caused by disease conditions such as infection, fracture or cancer.
  • Americans spend billions of dollars every year on back pain treatment.

Low back pain can be due to several factors, including osteoarthritis and facet syndrome.  Let’s take a look at these very common, back pain generators.

First, osteoarthritis.  Osteoarthritis is what your doctor calls the wear and tear that your spine suffers, through daily activity.  It is not a disease process so much as a wearing out through over use or injury.  The structures of the spine tend to break down due to this wear and tear.  This leads to back pain that may be more generalized and dull.  You may start out the day stiff and sore, but gradually improve with light exercise or you may get worse with strenuous exertion.

Next, facet syndrome.The facets are small joints on each vertebra and on both sides of the posterior spine.  They are well innervated and have a rich blood supply.  They are also one of the most common causes of low back pain.  Typical facet joint pain can be very localized or general in nature.  It tends to cause a great deal of muscle spasm and low back pain.  The pain can travel into the butt or even down the leg and into the posterior thigh, but usually stops at the knee.  This is different than sciatica, which is nerve pain that can extend all the way to the toes.  Facet syndrome is usually made worse by lumbar extension.