Understanding Back Pain
The American Chiropractic Association estimates that approximately 31 million people experience lower back pain at one time or another throughout their life. It’s the number one reason people miss work and a common reason for doctor visits.
What Causes Back Pain?
The spinal system is very intricate and complicated. There are many causes for back pain and here are some of the most common ones:
- Muscle strain
- Ruptured disks
Factors that complicate back pain are:
- Kidney problems
- Poor posture
- Back pain is very individual, and everyone feels it differently
There are several conditions associated with back pain. Here are some of the common ones you may be familiar with.
Sciatica is a pain the starts in the lower back and radiates down your hips, buttocks and down the leg. Sciatica is usually experienced on one side of the body. The most common causes of sciatica is a herniated disk, a bone spur on the spine or a narrowing of the spine called spinal stenosis.
Sciatica pain can vary from a mild ache to a jolt or a shock. The pain occurs when the nerve becomes pinched from a herniated disk or bone spur.
Sciatica is usually treated at home with heat therapy or ice packs on the lower back to reduce swelling, and pain medications.
Degenerative Disk Disease
Spinal disks help absorb the shock between the vertebrae (bones) in your spine and when there is an issue with a disk or disks – it can be debilitating. They are soft on the inside and harder bone on the outside When you get older, they start to wear down by drying out on the inside or cracking on the outside. Not everyone experiences back pain when the disks start to wear down, but those who do experience pain have degenerative disk disease.
If you have degenerative disk disease you will most likely feel a sharp pain that is constant in the back or neck. The pain can come and go and be achy or severe. Degenerative disk disease is usually treated with over the counter pain relievers to reduce inflammation.
Neck pain is a common medical condition. It can originate from several different conditions that involve any of the tissues in the neck. Degenerative disc disease, neck injury, poor posture, a pinched nerve or herniated disk can all cause neck pain.
Neck pain has varying symptoms including pain when moving your neck or turning your head, numbness, tingling, difficulty swallowing, dizziness or lightheadedness. You can also get a headache or shoulder pain.
The treatment for neck pain depends on the cause. Treatment includes heat therapy or cold compresses, physical therapy, traction and cortisone injections.
If you experience back or neck pain for more than 3 days, it might be time to see a doctor. A doctor may be able to help relieve your discomfort and pain and keep you from experiencing further injury to your back or neck. Being proactive about your medical care can help you understand your pain and give you a better health outcome.