Untreated chronic back pain can have a profound effect on daily life if left unattended and untreated. People who have been suffering from long-term chronic pain may face a challenge in performing their daily activities. It can also affect the emotional well-being of an individual and may lead to depression and increased disability. Sustaining long-term back pain can lead to lack of sleep and increased irritability and contributes to depression as well. Sleeping too little exacerbates pain, and greater pain makes it impossible to sleep.
Chronic back pain may spread from the lower back sometimes extending to your legs or feet. It is highly common, and an instance where it may lead to some permanent or serious damage is rare. Most of the times, the condition is temporary and will go way with time.
Doctors usually measure low back pain by its duration as acute or short-term and chronic or long term. Short term back pain is a result of any injury or trauma and symptoms may last from minor muscle ache to throbbing and radiating pain. Chronic pain is any pain that persists for more than 3 months. Chronic low back pain can last for months or years and interferes significantly with an individual’s sleep, productivity, and quality of life.
With increasing age, there is a decrease in bone strength, muscle elasticity, and tone and with the ability to absorb shocks from sudden jerky movements decreasing over time. Discs lose fluid over a period of time and may lose their ability to cushion the vertebrae.
Doing sudden heavy movements or overburdening the muscles, which are not primed for such activities may lead to a sprain, strain or a spasm which may put pressure on one of the more than 50 nerves rooted to the spinal cord that controls body movements and transmits signals from the body to the brain. It is when these nerve roots become compressed or irritated, that chronic back pain develops
Other risk factors that can be controlled and may be avoided include obesity, smoking, stress, poor physical activity, weird sleeping posture and inappropriate posture for prolonged periods of time.