Approximately 8 out of 10 people will experience some type of back pain at some point in their adult life. Many times there will be no obvious cause. General advice would be to stay active and stretch when necessary however, once a person has had back pain they become susceptible to more serious back problems.
Back pain Causes
The most common area for back pain is the lower back. This is classified as the part of the back, which is between the bottom of the ribs and the top of the legs.
- Non-specific pain -this is pain where the cause is unknown; this is 16 in every 20 cases and may resolve over time. The severity can be mild to moderate.
- Nerve root pain can also be known as sciatica. This is actually the case in less than 1 in 20 cases. This is caused by a nerve being pinched or trapped and typically cases pain only on one side down the leg sometimes as far as the calf or foot. It is characteristically a pins and needles, numbness, burning or electrical shooting type pain. The main reason this happens is a herniated or “slipped disc”.
- Cauda equine syndrome-this is extremely rare but is an emergency. This is where the nerves at the bottom of the spinal cord become pressed on. This causes lower back pain and also bladder and bowel problems, such as inability to pass urine and numbness around the anal area, as well as weakness in one or both legs. This syndrome causes permanent loss of the bladder and bowel nerves and usually requires emergency surgery.
- Arthritis and inflammation of the lower back joint
- Uncommon bone disorders, tumors, and infections can cause pain in the back but would likely cause pain in other parts of the body also.
- Pressure from nearby structures such as in pregnancy can also cause lower back pain.
Back pain treatments
- Exercise and keep moving-this may seem impossible at first but gradually increasing the activity levels allows the joints and muscles to remain loose. Sitting still will let the joints seize and the muscles tighten making it more painful the next time movement is attempted.
- Chiropractic adjustments: having regular check-ups with a licensed chiropractor can work wonders. A chiropractor can eliminate the source of the pain and can also reduce the symptoms.
- Sleep in the most comfortable position possible. Generally, sleeping on your back with a pillow under your knees will relax the back muscles. Sleeping on the side will be easier with a pillow between your knees.
- Painkillers such and anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen are often effective at reducing inflammation and easing pain but need to be taken regularly. Stronger painkillers and muscle relaxants can be obtained from a doctor but don’t address the underlying cause of the problem.
- Ice or heat-take warm baths or use a hot water bottle. Bringing heat to the area improves blood supply and helps to promote healing. Ice packs help to reduce acute inflammation as well as helping with the pain.
Each patient is different, and the level of pain tolerance for each individual varies as well. There are some people that have been dealing with pain for years, and have become accustomed to waking in the morning and simply dealing with back pain. The pain tolerance for these individuals may be extremely high, and would likely see significant benefits from treatments such as cold laser therapy or extensive exercise routines. Others may simply need minor adjustments to their neck and spine to see drastic improvement.
If symptoms do not improve after 7 to 10 days it is important to seek medical advice