It’s headline news when Tiger Woods or
George Clooney struggles with back pain; not so
much for the rest of us. That may be because back
pain affects so many of us: more than 85 per cent of
adults experience back pain at some time during their
lives. For most, back pain will happen more than once,
and bring with it side effects such as time off work,
financial hardship, depression and more.
Bill Horpyniuk knows all about it. A car accident
in 1995 was the start of his back problems. When his
neurosurgeon told him surgery could do more harm
than good, he decided to live with the pain. It was
a difficult decision for the Edmonton teacher whose
active lifestyle included carpentry, running a U-pick
berry farm, swimming, dancing and walking in the
river valley. Then, in the spring of 2011 he bent down
to pick up a piece of siding and he hasn’t been the
same since. An intense and unrelenting pain in his
back and legs forced him onto long-term disability.
Sitting and standing are difficult and his other
activities are severely restricted. Horpyniuk takes pain
medications and has tried just about every type of
therapy there is. He remains hopeful that at least his
leg pain can be treated effectively.
“I pray every day that this will happen,” Horpyniuk
says. “I’m still a positive person.”
For those of us with recurring back pain, a scenario
like Horpyniuk’s runs through our heads when the
pain gets bad. Such experiences, however, are rare
and most of us get better within weeks with exercise,
physiotherapy, chiropractic care, acupuncture,
massage and maybe over-the-counter medication.
Almost all of us will have back pain
some time in our lives. And while
chances are we’ll recover, finding
the right treatment and lasting relief
can be a long and difficult journey.
A new Alberta research project aims
to find faster and easier solutions for
people living with back pain.
Connie Bryson reports