The good news is that the average person’s lifespan is now almost a decade longer than it was 30 years ago. The bad news is that the overall state of health has not improved along with increased life expectancy. This means that for millions of Americans chronic pain and chronic diseases, which often result in disabilities, are impeding enjoyment of those final additional years. Topped only by ischemic heart disease, low back and neck pain now ranks number two on the list of “Disability Adjusted Life Years” (DALY’s), a study conducted by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington that was recently published in The Lancet. In addition to back and neck pain, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that nearly 15 million Americans live with severe joint pain.
The majority of joint pain is linked to arthritic conditions, while back and neck pain are linked to a high body mass index (BMI) and poor physical fitness. While life expectancy has increased since 1980, obesity has increased by 28% worldwide, leading one to conclude that efforts to stem the tide of obesity have been very unsuccessful thus far. Excess weight overstresses the back and joints, leading to pain and disability. According to CDC researcher, Kamil Barbour, the level of discomfort of joint pain “can limit a person’s ability to perform basic functions and seriously compromise their quality of life.” Arthritic conditions, which affect an estimated 52 million Americans, are expected to continue to increase as the population ages.
- Almost 50% of adults who say they are disabled and unable to work cite severe joint pain as the cause of their disability.
- Maintaining a healthy weight, or losing weight if needed, may be one of the most beneficial ways to reduce pressure on the joints. Carrying around additional weight puts unnecessary stress on the joints and bones.
- The researchers cited low-impact physical activity, such as walking, biking or swimming, as a nonpharmacological and underused way of reducing pain.
- Getting sufficient amounts of calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D supports bone health and strength.
- Following a Mediterranean style anti-inflammatory diet, that includes a high volume of nutritious plant foods, provides fiber and phytonutrients such antioxidants, lycopene, anthocyanins, and resveratrol, which discourage inflammation and support overall good health.
- While OTC pain relievers and anti-inflammatories may help make pain bearable, they are not without side effects. The risk of side effects is greater for those with preexisting medical conditions such as heart or kidney disease. The risk factors for side effects are lower in those who generally take care of themselves by maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, and controlling their blood sugar and blood pressure.
The majority or up to 80% of adult men and women experience low back pain at some point during their lifetimes. Most low back pain is mechanical in nature, resulting from an accident, injury, sedentary lifestyle, and general degeneration of the spine associated with normal age-related wear and tear on joints, discs and bones. With self-care, acute or short term back pain normally lasts from a few days to a few weeks and often resolves with no residual loss of function. Chronic back pain that persists for 12 weeks or longer can be related to a number of medical conditions including but not limited to herniated or ruptured discs, sciatica, spinal stenosis and osteoporosis.
- Back pain becomes more common with advancing age, as bone strength, muscle elasticity, and overall flexibility decrease.
- A job that requires heavy lifting or twisting as well as an inactive desk job may contribute to back pain.
- Back pain is often associated with weak abdominal and back muscles that may not properly support the spine.
- Exercise can strengthen affected muscles and reduce pain and inflammation. Exercise is not recommended for acute back pain.
- Once healthy again, exercise frequently to keep your abdominal and back muscles strong, which can help avoid future incidences of back pain.
- Hot and cold packs can help to relive pain and inflammation. Heat reduces muscle spasms and cold can reduce swelling.
Genes, environment and behaviors all contribute to a person’s lifespan. As researchers continue to study the relationship between health span and lifespan and find ways to delay or prevent disease and disability, one thing is certain. Healthy living is the path to healthy aging. We can all work towards living healthier longer by following some basic principles:
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Eat nutritiously
- Exercise regularly
- Get sufficient sleep
- Reduce stress
- Drink alcohol in moderation
- Don’t smoke
- Get sufficient amounts of micronutrients by to discourage illness and encourage wellness
Professional Supplement Center carries these and other high quality supplements for overall health and healthy aging support:
Cal Apatite Bone Builder® Forte by Metagenics – This formula provides full spectrum macro and micro minerals that naturally comprise healthy bone. Backed by more than 30 years of research, Cal Apatite Bone Builder Forte® supplies bone health support with vitamin D and premium quality MCHC. Gluten and soy free, Non-GMO formulation.
MSM 920™ by NuMedica – This high potency formula provides an organic source of sulfur, necessary for collagen production and support of structural and connective tissues, including muscles, tendons and ligaments. Gluten, soy and dairy free, vegetarian formulation.
Hyaluronic Acid by Pure Encapsulations – Hyaluronic Acid supports joint comfort and function by promoting healthy synovial fluid, and supporting healthy joint lubrication and shock absorption. Found in all bodily tissues, HA hydrates the skin to provide support for a healthy appearance. Gluten and soy free, Non-GMO formulation.
Joint Support Formula by Anabolic Laboratories – This high potency, broad spectrum, 3-part formula is indicated for joint pain, cartilage degeneration, inflammation and decreased mobility. Gluten free formulation.
Zyflamend Whole Body by New Chapter – This proprietary herbal blend is formulated to help balance and support the body’s natural healthy inflammation response after exercise. Gluten free, Non-GMO, vegetarian formulation.
Number of Americans With Severe Joint Pain Keeps Rising. https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_161349.html
13 Natural Remedies for Arthritis. http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20443624,00.html#exercise-11
Safe Strategies for Using Over-the-Counter Arthritis Drugs. http://www.health.com/health/condition-article/0,,20327304,00.html
How Back Pain Took Over the World. http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2016/10/how-back-pain-took-over-the-world/503243/?utm_source=nl-atlantic-daily-100716
Low Back Pain Fact Sheet. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/backpain/detail_backpain.htm
Increasing number of Americans suffer from severe joint pain. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/more-americans-suffer-from-severe-joint-pain/