Chronic lower back pain affects millions of people. For some, it causes temporary or permanent disability. Rehabilitation, physical therapy, stretching, and exercise can help most people with back pain. But some have such severe damage to the back that they will have chronic pain, weakness, and disability even after surgery.
To be officially disabled, patients must have a physician certify in writing that they cannot perform specific tasks such as lifting weight, getting up from a chair, or walking without help. A diagnosis of disability depends on how much the pain a person feels interferes with their daily function. Back pain becomes an official disability only when your doctor and often an independent disability doctor determine that you cannot perform certain physical tasks due to pain and/or weakness.
The usual causes of severe, chronic back pain include:
- Disease in the discs of the back that can’t be cured.
- Fractures of the spine.
- Deterioration of the spine from steroid use.
- Damage from a birth defect or cancer.
Patients with chronic low back pain need support from family, friends, physicians, and therapists to maximize their functioning and minimize their pain and discomfort.