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Chronic back pain may be ruining your sex life

Chronic back pain can do more than cause aches and pains. Studies show it can reduce your mojo, plummeting the sex drive and killing the mood between the sheets.

Fourty-seven per cent of Canadians suffering from chronic back pain report their condition affects their sex lives, according to the GSK Global Pain Index commissioned by GSK Consumer Healthcare. Of the study participants, 53 per cent said they felt less attractive as a result of their pain.

Chronic back pain is defined as pain that persists for more than three to six months. Treatments include physiotherapy, exercise, pain medications, and acupuncture, among others. In Canada, 18.9 per cent of people over the age of 18 suffer from chronic pain. A study by the National Institute Health says that chronic pain increases with age and women have a higher prevalence of pain than men.

Most people suffering from chronic back pain rely on medicines to help alleviate their symptoms. Fourty-five per cent of people suffering with the pain condition will use medications as a primary source of aid, whereas only 16 per cent use physical therapy and nine per cent use alternative medicines.

The problem is there are many pain medications that have unfortunate side effects on users. The company that sponsored the GSK Global Pain Index study, Voltaren, is a producer of oral and topical pain medications for people suffering with chronic pain. Possible side effects of their oral pills, as indicated by the FDA, include abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, dizziness, exhaustion, and nausea and vomiting. Interestingly, the company sponsored a study that provides information on the unsettling effects of pain on people’s lives, but doesn’t include the side effects for their own medications.

Pain medications could also be a contributor to a lacking sex life. Personally, I know that if my back hurt and I had constipation, nausea, vomiting or exhaustion, I wouldn’t feel like getting busy in the bedroom. Luckily, there are alternatives that take away the need for pain medications, while still allowing people to feel sexy.

“A lot of chronic pain involves not recognizing the difference between damaging pain and residual neurophysiological pain,” said registered physiotherapist, Hannah Williams. “The brain is rewired to think that certain movements are damaging when they are no longer actually damaging.”

Physiotherapy, stretches, yoga, strength training, acupuncture, and massage are great options to try as a primary source of care before turning to pain medicine.

Physical exercise is essential to re-train the brain so that unnecessary chronic pain no longer bothers you. “Any exercise at all is beneficial. Limiting yourself only to certain types of exercises will continue the pain,” said Williams. A very good type of exercise happens to be sexual intercourse, which can increase the heart rate and allow people to work past their chronic pain in a pleasurable way.

“Going to a chronic pain physiotherapist will help people to understand the difference between good and bad pain,” said Williams. “Chronic pain can hurt people’s sex lives, but it doesn’t mean people can’t work around it.”

Maybe all you need is a good old fashion rumble in the sack to help get rid of that chronic back pain. We suggest you work on that immediately.