According to the National Institutes of Health, back pain is the second most common cause of pain in the United States after headaches. Back pain is the main reason that people miss hours of work, and the most common cause of job-related disabilities. In addition, the NIS reports that people in the United States spend approximately $50 billion a year on lower back pain treatments.
The Symptoms of Back Pain
The symptoms of back pain include intense, shooting pain, sore muscles, limited movement, and the inability to straighten your back while standing. However, pain is not limited to the back alone. The pain may spread to other body parts, including the arms and legs. This could cause you to feel sharp pains or a loss of feeling in these limbs.
Short-term Back Pain
Most cases of back pain are the result of an injury to the lower back or a medical condition, such as osteoporosis. Injuries to the back can happen from lifting heavy objects, sports, gardening, playing with children, car accidents, or collisions with solid objects. These injuries can damage the tissue that surrounds your spine, causing pain.
Chronic Back Pain
Chronic back pain is pain in the back that lasts for 3 months or more. Chronic back pain could be the result of many issues, so it is often hard to pinpoint the exact cause of the pain.
Sciatica is a common form of chronic back pain, and the symptoms range from sharp pain, lack of strength, or a numbing sensation in the back, as well as a prickly feeling in the legs. This happens when there is pressure exerted on the sciatic nerve, sometimes as a result of injury. Often, when people age, they develop osteoarthritis, as well as a loss of curvature in the lower part of the spine. This, as well as bulging discs, can cause sciatica.
Other causes of chronic back pain include:
- Degeneration of the spine
- Osteoporosis or other bone diseases
- Spinal stenosis
- Irregularities in the skeleton such as back extension, back flexion, scoliosis, lordosis, or kyphosis
- Long-term tenderness in the joints, also known as fibromyalgia
Why Back Pain Happens
Muscle and Bone Strength
Over time, our bones and muscles become less flexible and strong. In addition, the discs in our spine lose fluids and become more rigid and tense. This prevents them from protecting the areas between our bones and nerve endings. When this happens, the nerves can become pinched or experience intense pressure. If the nerves around the vertebrae become compressed, you can experience a great deal of pain in your upper and lower back.
The Shape of the Spine
Normally, our spines curve to accommodate our body weight. The arched shape of the lower spine allows the force on the vertebrae to be distributed evenly. If you start to lose the arch in your lower spine, the pressure that is exerted on the lower vertebrae can be very painful. Many times when people suffer lower back pain as a result of a loss of curvature, the L4 and L5 discs are suffering the brunt of the weight on the spinal column.
Injuries to the Discs
The discs in your back are very sensitive to pressure, so any additional strain or pressure on them can cause the disc to bulge out of place or even rupture. Injuries from a fall or overexertion can cause herniated or deteriorated discs. These displaced discs may press against any of the many nerves in your spinal column and cause sharp, shooting, or aching pains.
Back pain could be a sign of a serious medical condition. If you experience other symptoms like fever, coughing that causes pain, numbness in the legs, or a loss of bladder and bowel control, you may want to see a doctor to check for a pinched nerve or more serious medical problem.
Common Activities That Cause Back Pain
Many people experience back pain after involvement in an activity or situation that causes injury or strain to the muscles or bones in the back. Some of the most common activities that can cause back pain are:
- Car accidents
- Bad posture over a long period of time
- Lifting heavy items
- Twisting the body while lifting heavy things
- Overexerting the back while stretching
- Sudden awkward movements
These occurrences can all cause the muscles and ligaments in the back to spasm, strain, or sprain. If you do not attend to your back soon after an injury or overexertion, you may be looking at months of healing and recovery time.
Diagnosing Back Pain
Each patient is different, a doctor will need to do a thorough check up and physical exam to diagnose the causes of back pain and suggest appropriate treatments. The doctor may review your medical history, physically examine your back, and take X-rays, MRIs, or CT scans to find the underlying cause of the pain.
Treatment for Back Pain
The Advanced Health and Rehabilitation Center Center in Greenville, North Carolina uses a wide range of treatments to tackle back pain. Our team of doctors, nurses, nutritionists, massage therapists, physical therapists, and chiropractors work together to determine the cause of your pain and treat it quickly and efficiently. We treat the symptoms and causes of back pain using a combination of physical and massage therapy and chiropractic methods to manipulate the joints that surround the spinal column so you get relief from pain.
Whole Body Vibration
At our medical clinic in Greenville, we also offer Whole Body Vibration for Automatic Muscle Reflex. This procedure strengthens muscles and promotes high bone density to improve the tone, strength, and flexibility of the muscles. Patients achieve this by lying on a platform that vibrates rapidly to stretch and contract the muscles. This is a very low-impact procedure that can increase the blood flow, burn fat, and encourage healthy bone density to prevent osteoporosis.
Our professional healthcare team can provide you with the very best in care to eliminate your pain and allow you to lead a healthy and active life. We not only treat the causes and symptoms of pain, but we can advise you on the best practices to maintain ideal health and well-being.