How common is lower back pain and what you can do to alleviate it

Approximately 19.6 million Americans suffer from chronic pain, which limits their daily activities. In fact, according to the National Institutes of Health, about 80% of adults experience low back pain at some point in their lives. This pain can range from a dull, constant ache to a sudden, sharp sensation.

The lower back includes vertebrae L1 – L5 in the lumbar region. This region supports much of the upper body’s weight, making it a very important part of the human body. Most low back pain affecting this region is acute, which means the pain lasts a few days to a few weeks.

Acute low back pain can often be treated at home with the appropriate selfcare. However, lower back pain can also be subacute (lasting between 4 and 12 weeks) or chronic (lasting for 12 weeks or more, even after an initial injury or underlying cause of the pain has been treated).

While there are many potential causes of low back pain, a sedentary lifestyle, low physical fitness, and weight gain are among the most common risk factors. Other potential risk factors include age, genetics and occupational risks, such as heavy lifting on the job.

According to the National Institutes of Health and the Mayo Clinic, regular exercise, specifically core strengthening exercises that are age appropriate and tailored to fit your fitness level, can strengthen the back and reduce the risk of low back pain.

So, what should you do if pain is preventing you from performing daily activities or limiting your ability to perform core strengthening exercises? Thomas Kindl, MD, a pain specialist at the St. Luke’s Pain Clinic, cautions patients not to wait to seek help. “If you are experiencing debilitating pain, it is time to seek an evaluation from a pain management specialist,” says Dr. Kindl. “If pain is limiting your mobility, this can put you at further risk of experiencing low back pain in the future if left unchecked. My goal as a pain specialist is to restore lost function, so that patients can maintain a healthy lifestyle,” Kindl added.

At the St. Luke’s Pain Clinic, our dedicated team of pain specialists work closely with patients to develop a tailored care plan designed to increase mobility and restore daily function. “Whether your pain is preventing you from performing light exercises or routine household or work duties, our diagnosis and treatments can give you back what your pain is preventing you from doing,” says Dr. Kindl.

If you are interested in learning more about how the McLaren St. Luke’s Pain Clinic may be able to help you or someone you know, please contact the Pain Clinic at 419.893.5986 for more information. For a list of all services available, visit