6 Consequences of Untreated Back Pain
When you suffer from back pain, you know that finding relief is key to living a happy, healthy life. The primary benefit of treatment, of course, is that you get to enjoy a reprieve from the nagging pain, which is probably preventing you from doing many of the things you love doing each day. First and foremost, leaving your back pain untreated holds you back from living a productive and enjoyable life. But are there other consequences to consider? Actually, yes.
1. Chronic Back Pain – If you’re experiencing acute back pain caused by an injury, such as a tear or strain, then you need to focus on properly recovering that muscle to its fullest. Not allowing the injury to heal the right way can turn your acute back pain into chronic back pain, which is defined as pain that persists for 12 weeks or longer. Chronic back pain has been associated with anxiety, depression, reduced quality of life, and drug dependency.
2. Spinal Injury – When you have back pain, you change the way you move, often putting unnecessary strain and pressure on other parts of the back and body. It’s common for pain in one area of the back to lead to new or worsened pain in others, especially in the spine. Prolonged nerve irritation, which occurs when back pain is left untreated for too long, can lead to permanent disabilities. Untreated vertebrae injuries can even lead to spinal stenosis (the narrowing of the spinal canal), radiculopathy (severe nerve pain), and nerve damage.
3. Poor Sleep – Among the most common back pain facts is the sobering truth that the way we sleep has a massive effect on our backs and vice versa. Untreated back pain prevents you from getting into a comfortable, supported position throughout the night, which, in turn, can prevent you from getting a good night’s rest. You probably already know that poor-quality sleep is linked to poor overall health and contributes to issues with mood, focus, and physical well-being, so it is not something you want to mess with if you’re on the path to good health.
4. Depression – The Cleveland Clinic reports that as much as half of all people with chronic pain also have a mood disorder, such as anxiety or depression. And the numbers are telling. Chronic pain makes you feel helpless, worthless, and sleep-deprived––all hallmarks of the most common mood disorders. At the same time, people with chronic back pain have higher risk of financial woes due to missed work and medical costs, which can also lead to depression. On top of that, the pain and depression actually worsen one another, advancing both conditions.
5. Loss of Mobility – When you go a long period of time without treating your pain, the injury accelerates, leading to loss of mobility and chronic stiffness. Losing the ability to move freely can contribute to a loss of independence, which is another factor that may spark or worsen depression. Other side effects of not being able to move are muscle weakness and weight gain, which can lead to more serious health problems down the road, including heart disease and diabetes.
6. Muscle Fatigue – Your body relies on the muscles, bones, and ligaments in your back to properly move and exercise. If that part of the body isn’t working at its peak, the rest of your body will be limited as well. As a result, you may find that your muscles get fatigued a lot faster than they once did if you’re suffering from chronic back pain.
Don’t Give Up
We want to leave sufferers of back pain with an important message: Don’t give up on your hunt for a back pain treatment that works for you. While at times it may feel hopeless—especially if you already struggle with chronic back pain—remember that leaving your condition untreated will only worsen the situation and addressing it head-on can change your life for the better. We’re here to help you get relief from the pain so you can get back to your active lifestyle fast.