Back pain is one of the most common types of chronic pain. Learning a little about this condition can help you find relief from symptoms. Keep reading to get answers to all the frequently asked questions.
What Is Back Pain?
Back pain is any pain that occurs anywhere in the back. In some cases, it may extend to the neck or hips. Often, it is more noticeable when you move or stay in certain positions. Some people may feel a dull throbbing while others feel sharp stabbing. It can feel like painful muscles, painful bones, or painful nerves.
What Can Cause Back Pain?
The back is an extremely complicated part of the body, so all sorts of issues can cause pain. In some cases, pain is due to muscle or ligament strain. Pain can also be caused by pinched nerves or degenerating bones. Another potential cause is ruptured or bulging discs. Damage to the soft material between vertebrae may cause discomfort.
How Can It Be Diagnosed?
To diagnose back pain, your doctor will usually start by asking you to move through certain positions. They will take note of when you feel pain, so they can figure out what might be causing it. Next, your doctor will most likely recommend imaging tests. X-rays and MRIs can help them see if your muscles, nerves, discs, or bones are the source of the problem. Once they pinpoint the problem, they can let you know what type of issue you have.
How Can It Be Treated?
The treatment will depend on your type of back pain. First of all, your doctor might prescribe pain relievers or muscle relaxants to help with the pain. Next, they will suggest treatments that address the root cause of the pain. Treatments can involve things like cortisone injections, nerve stimulation, physical therapy, or even surgery.
How Successful Is Physical Therapy?
Physical therapy is one of the most popular forms of treatment because it can address both the root cause and the resulting symptoms. It works well for back pain caused by muscle or nerve issues. Therapists can guide you through strengthening and flexibility exercises that help to relieve discomfort. They can also educate you on ways to change your lifestyle and prevent further pain.
When Should You See a Doctor?
Almost everyone experiences pain in the back now and then. If it happens right after intense physical activity and goes away within a day or two, it probably is not serious. However, if the issue lasts more than a few weeks, you should see a doctor. If you notice numbness or weakness in the legs or the pain is so severe you can’t do daily activities, you might not want to wait a few weeks to see a doctor.
Do Certain Health Conditions Cause Back Pain?
If you are sick with certain health conditions, you might end up with back pain. One of the most common culprits is osteoporosis. This weakened bone density can contribute. Another illness that causes pain in the back is arthritis because the disease damages joints in the back. Back problems can also be caused by certain types of cancer.
What Are Risk Factors?
As you age, you are more and more likely to get back pain. Most people with chronic conditions experience it first sometime between the ages of 30 and 50. Those who live a sedentary lifestyle or use poor lifting techniques when lifting heavy items are also more likely to experience back issues. Other risk factors include smoking, being obese, and having poor posture.
Are There Any Lifestyle Treatments That Help?
In addition to medical treatments, there are also some alternative treatments and lifestyle changes that can help. You may want to get an ergonomic chair and more supportive shoes. Trying massage therapy, yoga, and acupuncture may all assist with back pain symptoms.
Can You Prevent Back Pain From Developing?
To avoid further back pain, it is a good idea to regularly do low-impact exercises. Strength training can help build muscles that support the spine. You will also need to pay more attention to your posture and avoid slouching. When carrying or lifting heavy items, make sure you lift with your legs and get help with heavy items.