The price of back pain: It’s a complex equation

back-pain-infographicIf you are suffering from neck or back pain, you are acutely aware of how the pain affects some avenues of your life. You know your back pain is affecting your personal and work life. Have you tried to quantify those losses?

Any way you tally the numbers, the cost of back pain is high. Eight out of 10 people suffer from neck or back pain, and many suffer for years before they decide to have back surgery. Add the facts together, and you will find that your best option is to subtract back pain from your life.

The average person spends nine years suffering from chronic neck or back pain before they seek a surgical treatment, according to Laser Spine Institute’s research. That’s nine years of missed work and family vacations. It’s nine years of sleepless nights and paying for conservative treatment. It’s nine years of life slowly regressing.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Nov. 8, 2012 report, the average American suffering from back pain misses seven days of work annually, adding up to 63 days of missed work over nine years. That translates to 63 unpaid days for your finances – or $13,305.66 in missed income, with the average wage of $26.40 per hour, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, times the unpaid leave.

In addition to the decreased income, back pain sufferers also shell out a significant amount in alternative treatments, which include physical therapy, chiropractic care, acupuncture and therapeutic massage. Last year, 19.1 million Americans doled out $7 billion in out-of-pocket expenses for alternative care, equaling to about $368 per person per year in expenses, according to an article published by The Journal of The American Medical Association. Over nine years, the average person suffering from neck or back pain can expect to pay out $3,315 in alternative care treatment.

Those with chronic neck or back pain also miss out on a significant amount of sleep. A study published in the Journal of Pain revealed that 42 percent of back pain sufferers deal with sleep deprivation. Twenty-one percent of them clock less than 4 hours of sleep per night, adding up to a total of 1,408 hours of missed sleep per year, and 12,672 hours of lost sleep over nine years.

Many back pain sufferers forgo vacation time as well, citing that they are in too much pain to participate. Expedia.com released a vacation deprivation survey in 2011 and revealed that the average American takes 12 days of vacation per year. If you were to skip all of your vacations for nine years, that would equal 108 days of missed vacations – or 22 one-week trips.

It all adds up to this: you don’t have to let back pain subtract special moments from your life. The sum of your life shouldn’t be evaluated by factors of acute back pain— instead, subtract the back pain from your life. Contact a spine care specialist to help you multiply your efforts and find an equation that equals pain relief.

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