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Back and Joint Pain: More Than Just a Pain

Back and joint pain can be very uncomfortable. And unfortunately, these types of pain are also very common — 8 in 10 adults have back pain at some point in their lives, and more than 50 million U.S. adults have some form of arthritis (joint pain or joint disease), which can affect the back.

There are many reasons why you might have back or joint pain, from minor strains and sprains, to severe injuries or underlying medical conditions.

Some people are more prone to back or joint pain than others. The risk of developing pain may increase with:

  • Family history: Back and joint pain can be genetic, meaning it runs in the family
  • Age: Back and joint pain often develops or worsens as you get older
  • Weight: Obesity puts extra stress on your back and joints, causing pain
  • Occupation: Jobs that require constant bending, squatting, lifting, pulling or pushing may put stress on your back or joints, or cause injury
  • Previous injury: An old injury, such as one from a sport or work accident, can eventually cause you to develop arthritis

What Do Back and Joint Pain Mean for Our Community Health?

What is the Burden of Back and Joint Pain in the Stormont Vail Community?

When you have back or joint pain, your entire body can be affected.

This often happens when it comes to exercise. Pain may make exercise seem like the last thing you want to do — in fact, while 16.5% of Kansas adults do not get enough physical activity, that percentage increases to 35.8% among those with arthritis.

Unfortunately, lack of exercise can increase your risk for serious complications, such as heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes.

It’s also very common for people with back or joint pain to have comorbidities — two or more chronic conditions at one time. In Kansas, nearly 80% of adults with arthritis also have at least one other chronic health condition (e.g. diabetes, cancer, hypertension, stroke, coronary heart disease, asthma).

Depending on the type, cause, and severity, some pain treatment involves surgery. Joint surgery often involves knee, hip, or shoulder replacement. Back surgery commonly involves removing damaged bones or discs, or fusing (connecting) two or more bones in the spine.

What Are the Keys to Addressing Back and Joint Pain Community-Wide?

There are some risk factors for back and joint pain that cannot be controlled, such as aging and family history. But others, such as obesity or injury, can be addressed in order to prevent the onset of pain.

As a community, it’s important to focus on the following:

  • Weight loss: Excess weight can lead to back or joint pain — and almost 70% of adults in Kansas are overweight or obese. Support groups, exercise classes and other types of group activities all may help address the problem at a community-wide level.
  • Nutrition: Calcium and vitamin D keep bones strong and reduce the risk of osteoporosis (a condition that can lead to back pain). We need to ensure access to grocery stores where community members can purchase milk, low-fat dairy products, calcium-rich greens (e.g., kale, collard greens) and calcium-fortified or vitamin D-fortified products. If you have a neighbor who is elderly or disabled, and cannot drive to the grocery store, it might help to offer to take him or her grocery shopping from time to time.
  • Athletic and occupational safety: Previous injuries can cause long-term damage, and lead to back or joint pain later in life. It’s important for athletes and workers to make sure they’re up to date on preventing and treating injuries as well as wearing proper protective gear.

How Stormont Vail Can Help You

We are committed to providing our patients with the tools they need to prevent, treat and live with back or joint pain. Some of our resources and events include:

  • HealthWise: This program provides up-to-date health information and access to educational programming. While many of the programs are geared specifically toward adults over age 50, patients of all ages are welcome to join.
  • Injury prevention: Courses such as Stepping On and ThinkFirst Topeka teach the basics of fall and injury prevention.

The Impact of Back and Joint Pain On Our Community and Beyond

  • More than 30% of Kansas adults consider back or joint pain among their top 3 health concerns
  • 25% of Kansas adults have arthritis
  • Almost 15 million American adults live with severe joint pain due to arthritis
  • 8 in 10 Americans experience back pain at some point in their lives
  • Among Kansas adults, 34% of those who are obese, 43% of those with high blood pressure and 50% of those with diabetes also have arthritis

The Importance of the Right Medical Team for Back and Joint Pain Care

Having the right care team can lower your risk of developing or worsening pain and ensure that you get the treatment you need so that you can live without feeling hindered by back or joint pain.

Many different specialists may be a part of your care team, such as rheumatologists, nutritionists, and surgeons.

We also recommend that you continue to keep up with a primary care provider. Your primary care provider can give you information on healthy eating and exercise, look for signs of complications (e.g., heart disease, diabetes), and help you keep your entire body strong.

How Does Stormont Vail Include Family and Friends as Part of the Team?

We know that the people you love play a strong role in your health and wellness. Family and friends are welcome at many of our support groups and programs, and we are always willing to talk to your loved ones about the best ways to help you live with pain, or recover from surgery. Our social workers are also on hand to help you decide how to talk to your loved ones about your condition.

A Closer Look: Life with Back and Joint Pain

After Back or Joint Surgery: Caring For Your Loved One

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Back Pain Surgery: Myths and Facts That Get Back to the Basics

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When is Joint Pain an Emergency?

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Next Steps