Back pain is a common complaint by millions of individuals of all ages in North America. In fact, it is second only to headaches as the reason people miss work in the USA. The majority of people experience at least one episode of low back pain at least once in their life. For most people with back pain, there is good news- the symptoms are short term and can be treated by simple measures. Prevention is the best method to avoid back pain. In any case, surgery is rarely needed for back pain.
Symptoms of back pain include
Muscle or joint pain
Pain that may be radiating from the lower back into the legs
Pain may be sharp or stabbing
One may have limited range of motion
Flexibility is decreased
Difficulty standing up
If back pain lasts for 1-3 days, it is considered acute, when pain lasts longer than 3 months, it is considered chronic. This article gives more information about Causes of Back Pain.
Structural causes of Back Pain
The back is made up of complex interactions between ligaments, bone, muscles, tendons and discs. The pain may arise from any one of these structures. Back pain may occur from strained muscles and ligaments. This most commonly occurs when lifting heavy equipment or using an improper methods of lifting. In rare cases, muscle spasms may be the cause of back pain.
Ruptured discs/Herniated Discs/Bulging Discs- discs act as cushions between the vertebrae and sometimes the soft jelly like material bulges out of the discs and compress the nerve. However, not everyone with a bulging disc develops back pain.
Arthritis of the back commonly causes back pain. The spinal canal can narrow or bone spurs can pinch on the nerves.
Some people are born with congenital deformities of the back that leads to an abnormal curvature of the spine. Scoliosis is a back disorder in which the spine curves to the side and often cause back pain.
In elderly people, softening of the bones or osteoporosis leads to fractures and causes pain.
Risk factors for back pain include:
Performing physically demanding work
Sedentary life style
Stress and depression
Diagnosis of Back Pain
The diagnosis of back pain is not difficult but not everyone needs all the expensive radiological tests. If the physical exam is normal, then in most cases no testing is needed. However, if there is back pain on standing or shooting pains down the leg, then an x-ray may be warranted. Besides plain x-rays, MRI and bone scans are also used to determine the cause of back pain. If there is suspicion that a nerve is pinched, then nerve-conducting studies may be ordered to determine the response of muscles.
Nothing speaks louder than relief!
The best measure of our success is the success of our patients. Here is what a few of the hundreds of chiropractic patients we have helped said:
“Good to get a good night’s sleep.”
I had terrible, awful pain in my feet due to my neuropathy. I am about halfway through my treatment now, and last night I didn’t have the pain! The burning was not there and I didn’t have to wake up in the middle of the night and soak my feet in cold water. It felt very good to get a good night’s sleep. I feel like there has been some progress and I don’t feel so depressed anymore!
“Pain when I walk is about half”
Three weeks ago my feet hurt so bad I could hardly walk from my bedroom to the kitchen without sitting down. When I sit down I don’t have pain, but when I walked my feet hurt so bad it felt like they were broken. I went to many doctors; they didn’t do anything but verify I had peripheral neuropathy. They actually told me “We can’t help you.” Now that I’ve been coming to the Bellevue Pain Institute my pain when I walk is about half from what it was in the beginning. I’m also able to walk much better than I could three weeks ago!