Did you know that 85% of back pain cases are undiagnosed?
Back pain is common in the elder generation. Or that is what we believed until the outbreak of COVID-19. Today, youngsters of age 15+ are visiting physicians for back and neck pain. Statistics on back pain problems have raised a critical question among healthcare professionals and people – Is back pain the next endemic?
Increasing incidence of back pain
According to statistics, back pain was the leading cause of disability in 2017. Back pain is also one of the major reasons for people missing work and accounts for over 12 million lost work days every year.
The common belief about back pain is that it is caused due to aging and degeneration of the spine. While this is partially true, today, back pain is often the result of poor posture. Increased sedentariness in the current lifestyle has led to more cases of back pain among youngsters. Particularly youngsters working desk jobs are at a higher risk of back pain as prolonged sitting adds an immense amount of pressure to the spinal discs and back muscles.
54% of Americans suffering from back pain do desk jobs where they spend most of their time sitting. Not just bad postures, but even mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression can also result in back pain. A compelling and disturbing statistic is that 29% of Americans believe that back pain is a result of stress.
Challenges for physicians in diagnosing spine problems
Technology has advanced healthcare enormously. But in the case of spine problems, despite technological innovations, diagnosing the root cause of back pain is a challenging task for numerous reasons. The most important reasons include:
* Absence of a standard protocol for diagnosing spine problems
* Poor quality medical images
* Dearth of skilled radiologists
* Lack of diagnostic tests for spine ailments
* Reading hundreds of spine images in a short time
And many more. But, the foremost of all the challenges is that numerous spine problems share the same symptom.
For instance, the SI joint dysfunction and herniated disc at the lumbar region, both exhibit low back pain. And there is a fair chance that the patient might have both conditions but only one is diagnosed during the initial analysis, while the other remains undiagnosed until the next episode of low back pain.
Also, spine problems such as disc degeneration and osteoporosis are silent diseases that show symptoms only when they worsen, making them hard to diagnose at an early stage.
While back pain in itself is challenging to diagnose, people make it even harder by not seeking professional advice at the earliest. At this rate, in all likelihood, back pain seems to be the next endemic.
But, revolutionary technology, AI, is changing the delivery of healthcare, particularly spine care. With AI, even asymptomatic diseases like osteoporosis and disc herniation can be diagnosed at an early stage. With AI, radiologists can read thousands of spine images in the time taken to read hundreds of images, that too in a more detailed manner.
With AI becoming the new face of patient care and healthcare delivery, numerous health tech firms are focusing on the applications of AI in spine image reading and reporting, diagnosing heart diseases and lung problems, etc.
Synapsica is one such health tech firm that is building AI solutions to automate spine reading and reporting. Used across 15+ countries, Synapsica’s AI solutions – Spindle and SpindleX- are saving 70% of radiologists’ time spent on repetitive tasks in spine images.
Schedule a call with our product experts to know how we are enhancing spine care through automation. Click below to schedule a call at your convenience.