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Back Pain Article
Back pain is one of the most common ailments people endure and is one of
the most frequent reasons for visits to the chiropractor or orthopedic
doctor. There are many factors that can contribute to back pain. Among
the most frequent today are obesity and lack of exercise, each of which
can be reversed.
Most commonly, back pain occurs in the lower back. However, there are
many structures and tissue in the back that can become damaged for a
number of reasons. Pain can be present in localized, specific areas,
however depending on the condition it may radiate elsewhere throughout
the back or lower body.
The spinal column consists of four different sections; the cervical
spine (neck), thoracic spine (directly behind the chest), lumbar spine
(lower back), and the sacral spine (which connects to the pelvis). These
areas are composed of bones called vertebrae. Vertebrae protect the
spinal cord and nerve roots which are composed of extremely sensitive
tissue. Separating these bones are discs of cartilage which serve as
shock absorbers during movement. Surrounding the spinal column is other
tissue including muscles, tendons, and ligaments, each aiding the back
during movement and providing support.
Sometimes, back pain is the result of damage to nerve tissue along the
spinal column. This is usually caused neuopathically or nociceptively.
Neuropathic pain is caused when a nerve becomes directly pinched, most
commonly as a result of a herniated disc. This type of pain can become
severe and it also can radiate to other parts of the body as well, even
affecting the lower extremities. Nociceptive pain results from a type of
trauma or blow to the back as well as from disease which does not
directly damage nerve tissue. This type of condition often results from
back sprains. These types of pain do not have to occur independently of
each other, and can occur simultaneously.
Whatever condition affects the back, the pain is often categorized as
either chronic or acute. An occurrence of chronic back pain causes
constant or aching pain. This type of pain tends to last for long
periods of time, and may or may not be localized to a specific area of
the back. This type of long-term, serious pain can significantly impact
your lifestyle since working, standing for long periods of time, and
even sitting can generate pain.
Pain that is referred to as acute is generally less severe than
instances of chronic pain. This type of pain can be sharp and severe,
but it is usually localized to a specific spot on the back. In most
cases of acute back pain, the aching or throbbing is not constant and
occurs intermittently. Unlike causes of chronic back pain, acute pain
can almost always be relieved through conservative treatment methods.
Diagnosis of back pain can consist of several methods. First, a
physician can use x-ray imaging to determine problems that have
developed in the back. Although many causes of back pain may not show up
on an x-ray, it may still be used in order to rule out other possible
sources of pain. CAT and MRI scans are also commonly used. MRI scans are
among the most commonly used devices to take images of the back and
spine. A myelogram is a procedure in which a dye is injected into the
dura, or sacs, within the spinal column which will enable nerves to show
up in x-rays. Additionally, bone scans may also be used to determine the
presence of tumors, fractures, or other abnormalities within the bones
which may be responsible for back pain. This method of diagnosis
consists of injecting a radiographic material into the bones, allowing
abnormalities to become apparent.
Most cases of back pain are nonspecific. This means that they do not
occur from specific injuries. Among nonspecific causes of back pain are
obesity, poor posture, repetitive heavy lifting, or lack of exercise.
This type of back pain is most commonly found in the lower back. A
physician can perform a physical exam as well as other tests to help
determine the actual source of pain. Muscle strain is most often the
cause of this type of discomfort which can be treated with conservative
Muscle strains and sprains are among the most common reasons for back
pain. With strains, muscles become over stretched or stretched in an
abnormal way, causing tears in the fibrous muscle tissue. Sprains can
develop in a similar way and also produce similar symptoms. However,
sprains develop when the ligaments become injured rather than muscle
tissue. Although it may be difficult to differentiate these conditions,
treatment is usually the same and only requires conservative treatment.
Itís important to become aware of the risk factors involved with back
pain. Wear and tear from repetitive lifting, such as from work or other
activities, may often contribute to strain and pain in the back. Sitting
or standing for long periods of time can also lead to back pain. One of
the most common risk factors is lethargy and not getting the proper
amount of exercise. Regular exercise can help the muscles and tissues of
the back remain strong and flexible, thereby helping to prevent fatigue
and damage. Simply walking is one of the easiest ways to prevent pain.
Poor posture can also add wear and tear on the back, as can poorly
fitting or unsupportive shoes. Over time, these factors can cause
serious degeneration of tissue in the back and yield significant pain.
The majority of back pain can be treated without surgery. Rest and over
the counter anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen can often
help with pain, particularly in the short-term. Maintaining proper
posture, regular exercise, as well as the proper body weight can also
significantly prevent problems in the back. Seeing a chiropractor,
osteopathic physician, or physical therapist can also yield beneficial
results through spinal manipulations or through the use of exercises
designed to address your specific cause of back pain. In some cases,
acupuncture can also be helpful, although it is still a controversial
form of back pain treatment. One of the most common ways to treatment
various back pain ailments is also through the use of back braces and
supports which can reduce tension on the back and facilitate proper
Again, the occurrence of back pain is a very common complaint since
there are many factors that can add pain. Luckily, the majority of back
pain cases require only conservative treatment, but prevention is also
important. Through the use of back braces while lifting, supportive
shoes, proper posture, maintaining correct body weight, and easing into
new or more difficult exercise routines, you can significantly improve
the chances of avoiding back problems, while also help to maintain the
strength and flexibility of the back. To avoid further damage, it is
also important to seek treatment at the earliest onset of pain. Back
pain does not have to be a recurring problem. With helpful information
and good habits, the discomfort of back pain can be easily relieved.
Article written by David Lux. David is a Back Pain Specialist at
Backzilla.com, a non-profit website dedicated to back pain. Before
making any decisions on treatment, we remind you to consult with your