“I don’t think this fact is widely known, and it became worse during the pandemic with people staying home and not having access to appropriate care,” said Eric Hurwitz, professor and director of the Office of Public Health Studies (OPHS) at the Thompson School of Social Work & Public Health at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. Hurwitz is an epidemiologist who has studied back pain for 30 years.
, and workplace ergonomic concerns, Hurwitz co-authored a new study that discovered a relationship with depression (
At the subsequent follow-up, individuals with back pain were more likely to report symptoms associated with depression, and those with depression were more likely to report recurrent back pain. In a nine-year span, the study polled approximately 2,000 persons in the United States.
“Similar to back and neck pain, depression is also a leading cause of disability worldwide,” noted Hurwitz.
In another study, Hurwitz and colleagues utilized data from the US National Health Interview Survey to discover that cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, diabetes, and poor mental health were connected with an increased risk of spinal pain. The study also discovered connections between spinal discomfort and cognitive impairment (2✔ ✔Trusted Source
Spinal Pain, Chronic Health Conditions and Health Behaviors: Data from the 2016-2018 National Health Interview Survey
Go to source).
“The next steps in this research will be to figure out why these associations exist, if they have common causes that we can intervene on, and the effectiveness of these interventions,” said Hurwitz. “We need more studies that can help us better understand the causal relationships,if any, between these conditions.”
The International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health published both findings.
Throughout his career, Hurwitz has led various studies on the effectiveness of spinal manipulation and other treatments for treating back pain and other disorders often encountered by chiropractors. In his studies, he looks at whether groups are at higher or lower risk, what risk and protective variables exist, and what the best approaches to managing them are.
His interest in back pain therapy derives from his experience at Los Angeles College of Chiropractic, where he got his doctor of chiropractic degree.
How can I Keep My Back Pain Away?
So how does one deal with common back issues? Hurwitz advises, “Try to keep moving, find exercises or physical activities that you enjoy doing so you’ll keep at it. The important thing is to stay active and maintain a healthy weight, so your back isn’t unduly strained. It not only helps physically, but for your mental well-being too, and being sedentary increases the risk for all of these musculoskeletal and non-musculoskeletal ailments.”
Hurwitz recommends walking, swimming, and bicycling, as well as stretching exercises, yoga, and Tai Chi to enhance mobility and range of motion.
“Most back pain isn’t serious but if it’s persistent, and it keeps you from moving or sleeping, or goes down the leg, then it’s time to seek advice from a health care provider,” he said.
The Role of Public Health in Resolving Back Pain Problems
Hurwitz feels that public health has an essential role in resolving back pain concerns, and that efforts to improve cooperation on different levels are required.
“Interventions that motivate people in pain either mentally or physically or both to move more might have wide-ranging benefits,” Hurwitz said. “But what can we do not just individually, but as a community, society, organizationally, legislatively to promote health and well-being for all of us?”
He added, “We might have the motivation but societal or other constraints may get in the way, such as lack of safe spaces to exercise, the inability to afford gym membership and time constraints due to working multiple jobs.”
- Bidirectional Comorbid Associations between Back Pain and Major Depression in US Adults – (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36901226/)
- Spinal Pain, Chronic Health Conditions and Health Behaviors: Data from the 2016-2018 National Health Interview Survey – (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10094294/)
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