Mobility Through the Decades: How Chronic Low Back Pain Is Limiting Patients’ Lives
Published December 5, 2022
When patients present complaining of chronic low back pain (CLBP), they’re relying on you, as their provider, to help them find answers. Many patients want to know what’s causing their pain, how their condition will progress over time, and perhaps most importantly, how they can find relief.
As revealed in the Mobility Matters: Landmark Survey on Chronic Low Back Pain in America, created in partnership with The Harris Poll, many CLBP patients feel that they have been left in the dark about the cause of their pain or their options for treatment; as a provider, you’re all too familiar with the challenges and frustrations that can come with chronic pain.
In this blog, we’ll share some of the results of the groundbreaking survey, including new insights into how CLBP can impact patients’ lives as they age. We’ll also explore a common, though often undiagnosed, cause of CLBP and discuss some of the treatment options available for patients seeking relief.
By staying informed about the causes of low back pain, educating patients about their treatment options, and encouraging patients to seek help from spine health specialists, healthcare providers can play a key role in improving patients’ quality of life.
78% of Adults With Chronic Low Back Pain Don’t Know That An Enlarged Ligament May Be the Cause.
One cause of CLBP that often goes undiagnosed is an enlarged ligament in the lower back, which can contribute to lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS). LSS is a common, yet overlooked, condition that is prevalent in nearly 20% of patients over the age of 60.
LSS is often caused by an enlarged ligament in the back, which compresses the space in the spinal canal and puts pressure on the nerves in the lower back. This pressure around the spinal cord can cause pain, numbness, heaviness, or tingling in the low back, legs, and buttocks.
By recognizing the symptoms and understanding the treatment options, you may be able to identify the condition sooner in your patients with chronic low back pain and get them on the path to lasting relief.
Unsurprisingly, CLBP that may be caused by LSS has negative impacts on nearly every aspect of a patient’s life—most commonly in the ability to exercise, stand or walk for long periods of time, or get a good night’s sleep.
Introducing the Mobility Index
As patients age, it can be difficult to assess which mobility challenges are a normal part of aging, and which may have an explanation, such as an enlarged ligament.
The Mobility Index was designed to demonstrate just how different life could be for older adults if chronic low back or leg pain was not a limiting factor.
Results from the Mobility Matters survey indicate that adults with CLBP face significantly more difficulties performing physical activity and making it through the day without pain than their peers without chronic pain.
What Could Your Patients Do With Fewer Limitations?
Patients who suffer from CLBP are already familiar with the limits their pain can put on carrying out daily tasks and activities. But they may not even realize just how much they’re missing out.
When it comes to activities such as walking, dancing, using the stairs, and more, the Mobility Index can be a great tool for educating patients. By reviewing the differences in mobility between individuals with and without CLBP, you can help your patients understand more about their mobility and their options for relief.
Mobility By the Decades: 50s
For CLBP patients in their 50s, having difficulty doing physical activities that were once a regular part of life, such as walking a mile or dancing for the duration of one song, can feel especially discouraging.
Mobility By the Decades: 60s
For patients in their 60s, there are some activities—like jogging—that aren’t especially popular. Even among individuals without CLBP, only 50% of respondents in their 60s reported the ability to jog easily. However, for patients suffering with CLBP, this number plummets to only 13%.
Mobility By the Decades: 70s
80% of people in their 70s without CLBP are able to easily go up and down the stairs. But the experience may be significantly more challenging for CLBP patients of the same range, as fewer than half of those with CLBP were able to say the same.
Getting up from the floor is another activity that impacts CLBP sufferers much more than their peers who don’t experience chronic pain. While 66% of 70-somethings without CLBP reported ease in getting up or down from the floor, only 28% of those with CLBP were able to say the same.
Options for Low Back Pain & LSS Treatment
If you think lumbar spinal stenosis could be causing a patient’s low back pain, and common conservative treatment options such as physical therapy, pain medication, and epidural steroid injections (ESIs) are no longer providing adequate relief, it may be time to move to mild®.
The mild® Procedure, or minimally invasive lumbar decompression, is considered a gold standard of care among treatments for lumbar spinal stenosis. By addressing the root cause of pain, the enlarged ligament, mild® has helped 88% of patients avoid back surgery for at least 5 years while providing lasting relief.
Due to its minimally invasive nature and long-lasting durability, many interventional pain management physicians are making the move to mild® as an alternative to epidural steroid injections (ESIs), which may only work short-term and may require repeat injections to maintain relief.
More invasive courses of treatment can include procedures such as spacer implants or open surgery, though nearly 80% of CLBP sufferers have concerns about undergoing surgery.
CLBP Doesn’t Go Away On Its Own
For patients experiencing chronic low back pain, it’s never too early to act. Without addressing the root cause of pain—such as the enlarged ligament in cases of LSS—patients can often go years without finding relief.
The Know Your Back Story campaign, a national public health awareness campaign, educates and encourages millions of people with CLBP to learn more about their “back story” and encourages providers to educate patients about LSS and the enlarged ligament that may be the source of this pain.
If your patients are seeking answers for chronic low back pain, they may benefit from the mild® Procedure as a first course of treatment. By referring patients to a local interventional pain management physician, you can help get them on the path to lasting relief.
Access more resources about the Know Your Back Story Campaign and the Mobility Matters Poll