Are you struggling with back pain? Then you need to hear this! The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that back pain ranks among the top four most common types of chronic pain afflicting people today. Over 31 million have experienced lower back pain, and a projected 80 percent will suffer at least a bout of back pain their lifetime. It is pertinent to know about the risk factors which predispose one to back pain and learn how to prevent or treat it, since this painful affliction cuts across all demographics.
Understanding Your Back
Your back is a complex collection of tissues, muscles, ligaments, joints and bones. It is an integral body system full of blood vessels, cerebrospinal fluid and nerves. If anything goes wrong with any of the building components of the back, all other elements in its surroundings will be affected. For instance, when you tear a ligament, the neighboring ligaments and muscles will try to take over the function of the damaged ligament, leading to overcompensation which causes the pain to spread outward through the whole back. Nearly every activity we need to carry out requires the support of the back, and this makes it susceptible to injury because of its delicate nature.
Different Types Of Back Pain
Back pain can come in three primary forms: acute, chronic (recurring) and neuropathic. The three types of back pain can be distinguished by their duration, but they give the same symptoms.
You are likely suffering from acute back pain if the back pain persisted for less than six months.
You are likely afflicted with chronic back pain if the back pain has persisted for more than six months.
Neuropathic back pain occurs when nerves transmit pain messages to the brain thereby causing the brain to produce pain in the area sending the message. The field of neuropathy is a new field of study, and there are few studies on the subject matter.
How Does Back Pain Begin?
There are innumerable factors that can trigger a bout of back pain, including nerve related and mechanical causes. Even though this list is not exhaustive, it mentions some of the common triggers of back pain:
- Improper lifting or lifting of load that is too heavy
- Overstretching or over using the back, strains, sprains and spasms
- Deformities of the spine, for example, scoliosis and other curvatures
- Pregnancy, especially the expansion of the pelvis during the third trimester
- Disc problems such as compression, deterioration and rupture
- Kidney issues, including kidney stones and infections
- Endometriosis, which is an overgrowth of the womb lining
- Blood clots
- Osteoporosis or osteopenia (bone deterioration)
- Disease of the vertebrae such as Spondylolisthesis
- Tumors or cancer
What Can Be Done To Treat Back Pain
An accurate diagnosis of the specific type of back pain is required to manage it effectively. To prescribe the right treatment, the cause of the back pain must be known, to guide in the choice of therapy, as each type of back pain needs a different kind of treatment. It is now known that chronic pain can exist independent of any other issue, leading doctors to change the strategies employed for treating it.
Different categories of treatment can be used to ameliorate back pain. Some of these include medications, surgery, physical therapy, lifestyle modifications and alternative treatments.
Your diagnosis of the type of back pain will inform the choice of medicines prescribed for its treatment. Doctors usually start medications by prescribing the mildest available drugs such as pain relievers like aspirin and ibuprofen. If these do not work, NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) may be prescribed for you. You may receive a prescription of muscle relaxants, narcotic drugs, steroids, antidepressants, numbing injections or topical pain medications.
Doctors usually use physical therapy to restore an injured area in the back to full health without compromising the well-being of surrounding health systems. Physical therapy uses a series of ergonomic body movements to strengthen your core muscle groups.
Your doctor may also recommend some beneficial exercises to be done on a continuous basis after treating your back pain.
Surgery is used to treat back pain when there is an unresolved compression in the nerve centres or the discs between the vertebrae. It can also be used to correct structural issues in the back, for instance, a too narrow spine.
A change in life style can effectively help to correct back pain. By adopting more human-friendly workstations, changing to a different shoe type, weight reduction and education about the proper methods of lifting, some back pain can be completely relieved.
Yoga, acupuncture, chiropractic, massage and bio/neuro feedback for pain managements are all alternative methods of treating back pain. A combination of alternative treatments, medication and physical therapy work effectively for back pain treatment.
Can Back Ache Be Prevented?
Back pains can be drastically reduced if one can adopt life style modifications that prevent back pain, eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, have plenty of rest, maintain a healthy weight, always keep hydrated, abstain from smoking and excessive drinking, and maintain a good work and life balance.