Back pain is painful, can restrict your activity and disrupt your sleep but it is very common. Experts estimate that 80% of the population will experience a back problem at some time in their lives. Back pain is one of the most common reasons for missed work and is the second most common reason for visits to the doctor's office. Here are some facts about back pain causes, treatment and prevention.
Anyone can have back pain. Back pain is equally common across all age groups but some factors increase your risk. Getting older, smoking, poor physical fitness and being overweight all can stress your back and cause pain. Your job can also contribute to pain if you have to lift, push, pull or twist your spine repetitively or if you work at a desk an dsit all day. Some hereditary conditions and diseases like arthritis or cancer can also cause back apin.
Back pain is rarely caused by a serious condition. Back pain usually results from strain of the back muscles, sprain of the ligaments or a bulging or herniated disc. While sports injuries, falls or accidents can cause back pain, sometimes it is a simple movement - like picking up a pencil from the floor - that causes painful results. In addition, arthritis, poor posture, obesity and psychological stress can cause or complicate back pain. A small percentage of cases are caused by more serious conditions like inflammatory arthritis, infection, fracture or cancer.
MRI and CT scans are rarely needed to diagnose back pain. To diagnose back pain, your chiropractor will take your medical history and do a physical exam. Orthopedic testing that checks your reflexes, your muscles and how you turn and bend can help pinpoint the cause of the problem. Sometimes x-rays are required to provide additional information about the structure of the spine. Scans are only needed when a serious condition is suspected - like fracture, cancer or infection - or when your condition does not respond to a conservative course of care.
Spinal manipulation is safe and effective for low back pain. When spinal vertebrae are misaligned, stuck or not moving properly, compression and irritation of the nerves and spinal joints can occur. This can result in muscle spasm and pain. The goal of chiropractic care is to restore spinal movement and function, facilitating your body's ability to heal.
Exercise is good for back pain. There is strong evidence that keeping active and returning to all usual activities gradually is important in aiding recovery from back pain. Avoid prolonged inactivity or bed rest since this can cause muscles to get stiff and weaken. Ligaments and tendons that lose their flexibility become more vulnerable to re-injury. As your condition becomes more stable, you should receive exercises to help strengthen your back and supporting structures, like your hips and core.
You can help prevent low back pain. There are many things you can do to help avoid a bout of back pain. Strengthening your core muscles helps to support your lower back, improve your posture and provide better balance. Bend your knees and lift with your legs, keeping objects close to your body. Avoid twisting when lifting. Choose a mattress that supports your spine in a neutral position with no gaps between your body and the mattress. Sleep on your side with your knees slightly bent or on your back with a small bolster under your knees. Set up and use an ergonomic work station. Maintain a healthy diet and weight. Follow the recommendations of your chiropractor. And quit smoking.