Back pain is one of the top reasons people will seek medical care every year. In America the costs of back pain when measured in lost wages and decreased productivity are enormous.
Facts about back pain:
- Back pain is the single leading cause of disability worldwide
- Back pain is one of the most common reasons for low work-productivity
- One-half of all working Americans will have back pain each year
- 80% of the population will experience a back problem at some time in their lives
- Most cases of back pain are mechanical in nature
To simplify our discussion on back pain, we will divide it into 3 categories. Category one will be Mechanics, Category two nerve root related pain, and category three will discuss pathology/fracture.
Mechanics Back pain caused by poor mechanics is a very common problem. The pain comes from abnormal movement (sprains, strains, or mis-alignment of spinal areas) that create inflammation in the back. Nerves become affected and pain results. Mechanical back pain can result from a single event (falling down, sporting activities, cleaning, gardening, etc.) or from repeated trauma.
Gravity is working against us constantly. Standing on two legs puts a lot of pressure on the spine. The pressure of sitting, standing or bending can cause additional strain on the back. Stresses on the spine are cumulative, and pain results when a certain threshold is reached.
When back pain is caused by mechanical factors, identifying the cause can be difficult. Many times there are multiple factors and a direct cause cannot be detected. Little events can build up or an old injury can be re-injured. We constantly hear “I don’t know what I did!”. Patients are often unable to recall any event or injury that caused the pain. In addition, a lack of regular activity can be as big of a problem as an accident or injury. Lack of motion/exercise can cause mechanical problems in the spine. The “cause” of back pain is a lack of activity that creates weak muscles and added weight that puts stress on the spine.
Nerve Root Related pain comes from the part of the nerve that runs through the bony canal between the bones of the spine. Nerves run down from the brain as the spinal cord and exit from a hole between each vertebrae of the spine. The term you hear when this area becomes stressed is that a patient has a “pinched nerve”.
Back pain can occur from nerve roots being irritated. This can happen from disc pressure or inflammation of the corresponding nerve root. Irritation can be caused by repetitive motions, trauma, or holding the body in one position for long periods of time. This dysfunction can cause other symptoms including sciatica, numbness, tingling, burning, or weakness. Nerve root pain can be treated effectively with Chiropractic treatment, Cold Laser Therapy and specific Spinal Exercises. Chiropractic is very effective in reducing nerve irritation and the associated pain that goes with it by decreasing inflammation and helping to restore the proper motion to the spine.
Pathology The third category includes pathology and fracture would require further testing to determine the severity of the condition. Back pain can be referred pain from the internal organs (i.e., kidney stones, infections, etc.). It is very important to let your doctor know if you have any new symptoms so they can help you make the appropriate health choices.
Tips to help prevent back problems
- Exercise often – warm up & stretch before physical activities
- Remain active; avoid prolonged inactivity or bed rest.
- Take breaks from sitting – walk around, change positions
- Proper Ergonomics – Make sure your chair and workstation are “back friendly”
- Maintain a healthy diet and a healthy weight
- Keep bones strong – Ask your doctor what Vitamins and minerals are right for you
- Stand up straight – no slumping, be aware of your posture
- Avoid heavy lifting – whenever you do lift – lift with your knees, keep the object close to your body, and do not twist when lifting.
- Quit smoking – smoking impairs blood flow, resulting in oxygen and nutrient deprivation
- Ensure your workstation is ergonomically correct.
- Sleep is important for spinal health– Invest in a quality mattress that supports your spine
- Watch your stress level – Take time to “de-stress”
At Hoala Natural Pain Clinic, we are dedicated to helping patents live a life free of back pain. We incorporate nutritional support, massage therapy, exercises, into our treatment plans to help patients get out of pain as soon as possible.