Almost everyone experiences back pain at some point in life, which is the leading cause of disability globally. Back pain can be distracting, affecting your ability to perform everyday tasks and diminishing your quality of life. Most of the time, the pain does not require urgent treatment, but if the pain persists and becomes unbearable, you may need medical attention. For comprehensive, patient-centered treatment, prevention, and management solutions, you can rely on our expert specialists at Axon Health Associates.
Types of Back Pain
The back has disks, tendons, bones, muscles, cartilage, and ligaments working together to support the body and movement. Back pain is a discomfort felt in one of the back spines or a tear of tissue or muscle connecting to the bones.
Back pain can be mild or severe and can come on suddenly (acute; lasting less than six weeks), caused by heavy lifting or falls, subacute, lasting 4 to 12 weeks, and can last more than three months (chronic), developing without a specific cause. The pain can be stabbing or a burning sensation; sometimes, it may go down the leg or become strenuous when standing, walking, or bending over.
Mechanical: This is the most prevalent type caused by spine injury, soft tissue damage, or intervertebral disk problems.
Inflammatory:Infectious: This is caused by spine infections or soft tissue ulcers.
Degenerative: This is associated with joint osteoarthritis, spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disorder, and osteoporotic compression fractures.
Oncologic: Such as marrow cancer or spine damage.
Causes of Back Pain
It is not always clear what causes back; your doctor can identify it through tests. Common conditions linked to back pain include and are not limited to:
- Damaged disks
- Lifting heavy loads or overworking
- Arthritis of the spine
- Rupture or bulging of the spine discs
- Sitting, lying, or standing for too long
- Muscle spasms and sprains
- Poor posture
- Kidney disease
- Spine infections
- Lack of exercise leading to weak muscles and spine stiffness
- Degenerative disc disease
- Structural problems
- Sports injury
Back Pain Symptoms
Symptoms can vary, and they include:
- Muscle ache
- Sharp, localized pain in the lower or upper back
- Shooting or stabbing pain
- Inability to stand straight without pain or muscle spasms in the lower back
- Pain that radiates down to your leg
- Pain that worsens when you lift, walk, stand, or bend
- Severe pain that doesn’t respond to rest
- Pain in the lower or middle back after sitting or lying down for a long time
- Decreased range of motion and reduced ability to flex the back
- Dull aching sensation in the lower back
When to See the Doctor
Seek immediate medical assistance if your back pain is accompanied by:
- Pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness in both legs
- Back pain that does not improve with rest
- Chest pain
- Unexplained weight loss
- High fever
- Tingling or numbness around your buttocks or genitals
- Difficulty urinating
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
- The pain started after a severe fall or accident, such as a car accident
- The pain is made worse when sneezing, coughing, or having a bowel movement
Various factors are linked to a higher risk of back pain, such as:
- Poor physical fitness
- A sedentary lifestyle
- Occupational activities
- Genetic factors
- Age (older people)
- Incorrect techniques when working out
- Strenuous physical activities
- Medical conditions such as arthritis or cancer
- Being overweight or obese
- Stress, anxiety, or mood disorders
- Improper lifting
Your doctor will conduct a physical exam to test your:
- Ability to stand, walk, sit and lift your legs
- Pain rate on a scale of one to zero
- Ability to detect leg sensations
- Spine’s motion range
If your back pain is severe, your doctor may order additional tests, including:
- Bone scan to check for fractures or any abnormalities in the bone tissues.
- Blood and urine tests for infections or other conditions.
- Computed tomography (CT) Scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to assess nerves, discs, ligaments, or muscles.
- X-rays to check the state of soft tissues, bone alignment, and breaks
- Electromyography (EMG) tests nerve signals and confirms nerve compression caused by herniated disks.
Back Pain Treatment
Acute back pain improves with home remedies such as:
- Application of heat or ice to the painful area
- Over-the-counter pain relief medications
- Light exercises
- Topical pain relievers
- Rest from strenuous activities
If over-the-counter drugs aren’t working, your doctor may prescribe other medications such as muscle relaxers, narcotics, or antidepressants. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen or naproxen help relieve pain.
Physiotherapy helps increase flexibility, improve posture and strengthen the back and abdominal muscles. It also helps keep pain from returning.
Other treatments include:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to cope with pain and manual therapy helps move bones, muscles, and back joints can also help.
- Nerve stimulation
- Massage therapy
- Cortisone injections to decrease pain and inflammation
This is usually the last resort for severe cases such as spinal disk herniation, spinal hematomas, or spinal stenosis. Common surgical procedures include spinal fusion or laminectomy.
Back Pain Prevention
To lower your risk of back pain, you can:
- Exercise regularly to control body weight and strengthen the back
- Lose weight and maintain a healthy weight
- Maintain a good posture when standing
- Quitting smoking
- Build muscle strength and flexibility
- Lift objects by bending your knees, not your back
- Avoid twisting or straining your back
- Choose a seat or chair with lower back support; you can also place a pillow at the small of your back
- Consume a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D for bone strength and health
At Axon Health Associates, we offer high-quality, customized treatment and management care for your back pain. Contact us today for more information or schedule an appointment online. We are glad to help.