BACK PAIN FACTS
Outnumbered by respiratory infections, back pain is one of the most commonly cited reasons that Americans have to go to the doctor or miss work. According to the Global Burden of Disease Study, back pain and lower back pain is also a leading cause of disability worldwide, with around 80% of people experiencing it at least once in their lifetime. Back pain management is a growing field that can have great benefits & success if a doctor is consulted for natural treatment procedures before further, more serious alternatives.
Men and women are equally affected by lower back pain which can range from a dull, constant ache to a sudden, sharp sensation and can leave the person incapacitated. Pain can begin abruptly as a result of an accident or by lifting something heavy, or it could develop over time because of age-related changes in the spine. Sedentary lifestyles could also set the stage for lower back pain, especially when a routine of too little exercise is punctuated by a rigorous weekend workout.
Fortunately, there are several measures you can take to prevent or relieve back pain episodes. If prevention measures happen to fail, home treatment and proper adjustment to body mechanics will often heal your back within a few weeks and keep it feeling pain-free in the long term. Pain relieving drugs and surgery are rarely the first course needed to treat most types of back pain.
COMMON AREAS OF BACK PAIN
Most lower back pain is considered acute, or short-term, and it can last a few days up to a few weeks. This type of back pain tends to resolve on its own with self-care, and there is no residual loss of function. The majority of acute back pain is mechanical in nature, meaning that it was caused by the way the components of the back (the spine, muscle, intervertebral discs, and nerves) fit together and move in the course of everyday life.
Subacute lower back pain is defined as pain that lasts between 4 and 12 weeks, whereas chronic back pain is defined as pain that persists for 12 weeks or longer, even after an initial injury or underlying cause of the back pain has been treated. About 20% of people affected by acute lower back pain develop chronic lower back pain with persistent symptoms after only one year. In some cases, treatment can successfully relieve chronic lower back pain; in other cases, the pain may persist despite medical treatment.
Recurring back pain resulting from improper body posture is often preventable by properly lifting objects and trying to avoid movements that strain the back. Many work-related injuries are caused or aggravated by activities like heavy lifting, repetitive motions, and bad posture. Using ergonomically designed furniture and equipment can help protect the body from injury while at home and in the workplace, and may reduce the risk of potential back injuries.
BEYOND UNDERLYING DISEASES, OTHER RISK FACTORS THAT MAY ELEVATE ONE'S RISK OF BACK & LOWER BACK PAIN INCLUDE:
The first instance of lower back pain usually occurs between the ages of 30 and 50, and back pain becomes more common with old age. As people grow older, the loss of bone strength due to osteoporosis can lead to fractures, reduced muscle elasticity, and tone decrease. The intervertebral discs start to lose fluid and flexibility with advancing age, decreasing their ability to cushion the vertebrae, along with the risk of spinal stenosis.
Some causes of back pain, such as ankylosing spondylitis, a form of arthritis that involves fusion of the spinal joints leading to some immobility of the spine, are often caused by genetic factors that can’t be mitigated as easily as body posture and weight gain.
Back pain is more common among those who do not regularly engage in physical activity. Although it's easy to add unwanted body fat, unnecessary stress on the back can be from poor eating habits & simply being overweight, often leading to lower back pain. Studies show that low-impact aerobic exercise is beneficial for maintaining the integrity of intervertebral discs and can protect against developing chronic back pain.
Having a job that requires a great deal of heavy lifting, pushing, or pulling, especially when it involves twisting or vibrating the spine, can often lead to lower back injury and/or other pain. In addition, an occupation that not involve any or much activity, such as a desk job, can also lead to back pain, especially if you have poor posture or sit in a chair most of the day without proper back support.
Pre-existing mental health issues such as anxiety and depression could actually play a role in how closely one focuses on their back pain, as well as their perception of its severity level. Back pain that becomes chronic could also contribute to the development of even greater psychological factors. Mental stress may affect the body in numerous ways, including muscle tension, which can lead to more health consequences.
BACK PAIN DIAGNOSIS
A complete medical history and physical exam early on can help to identify any serious conditions that may be causing the pain. During the exam, a health care provider will ask you about the source and severity of your back pain, the duration of symptoms, and any previous health conditions that might be related to the pain. Along with a thorough back examination, brain exams may be conducted to determine the cause of the pain and an appropriate treatment. The cause of chronic lower back pain may still be difficult to determine even after a thorough neurological examination.
Imaging tests are not warranted in most cases of lower back pain treatment. Under certain circumstances, imaging may be considered to rule out specific causes of pain. X-ray is often the first imaging technique used by doctors to look for broken bones or injured vertebrae. X-rays show the bony structures and any vertebral misalignment or fractures, but soft tissues such as muscles, ligaments, or bulging discs are not visible on conventional x-rays. Computerized tomography scans are often used to see spinal structures that cannot be seen on conventional x-rays. Using a computer, the CT scan creates a three-dimensional image from a series of two-dimensional pictures.
Magnetic resonance imaging uses magnetic force rather than radiation to create a computer-generated image, and is a noninvasive way to identify a condition that may require immediate surgical treatment. Unlike an x-ray, which shows only bone structures, MRI scans can also produce images of soft tissues such as muscles, ligaments, tendons, and blood vessels. An MRI may be considered if a serious problem like infection, tumor, inflammation, disc herniation or rupture, or pressure on a nerve is suspected.
BACK PAIN TREATMENT
Treatment for low back pain generally depends on whether the pain is acute or chronic. In general, surgery is recommended only if there is evidence of worsening nerve damage and when diagnostic tests indicate structural changes for which corrective surgical procedures have been developed. The Pain Relief Center is cautious about giving prescription pain medication (unless it's after a surgery), and we often recommend minimally invasive surgery and therapeutic approaches before prescribing potentially harmful medication. The following treatments are performed for lower back pain relief at our center:
The most critical step on the path to recovery is finding a pain management doctor who can address your pain management needs successfully. The Pain Relief Center and its five specialized institutes are dedicated to meeting any and all of a patient’s needs. Located in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, Dr. Rodriguez and his friendly staff will help you along the path to recovery.
Our new center in Dallas is part of a nationwide development by Pain Relief Centers, geared to providing individualized and comprehensive healing and pain management services with unprecedented levels of compassion, care, and comfort for each patient.