What Are The Causes Of Chronic Back Pain
According to the study, the lower back pain is the leading cause of disability. Now, the question is what causes chronic back pain. Before talking about the causes of chronic back pain, it would be better to know about the structure of the human back.
The structure of human back is very complex. It consists of muscles, ligaments, disks, bones, and tendons. It there is any sort of problem with any of these components, then a person is likely to suffer from the back pain. Due to a complex structure of a human back, there are many people who also suffer from chronic back pain syndrome. Here are some of the common causes of chronic back pain.
Arthritis Of The Spine
Arthritis of the spine the slow degeneration of the spinal joints is the most frequent cause of lower back pain. All of us experience wear and tear as we age, and it is normal for your lower back to start acting up as you get older. As the cartilage breaks down between the spinal joints, surrounding tissues may become inflamed. The inflammation and the thinning of cartilage increase friction in the joints, which may cause pain in the lower back.
What Is Active Physical Therapy
Active physical therapy involves movement-based activities like: stretching, range of motion exercises, and targeted spine strengthening and conditioning exercises.
The movements and exercises are designed to address those underlying causes of chronic back pain so you can strengthen your back, condition your muscles and improve your mobility.
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How Is Chronic Back Pain Diagnosed
Your healthcare provider will ask if you have any medical conditions. He or she may ask if you have a history of back pain and how it started. He or she may watch you stand and walk, and check your range of motion. Show him or her where you feel pain and what makes it better or worse. Describe the pain, how bad it is, and how long it lasts. Tell your provider if your pain worsens at night or when you lie on your back.
The Lumbar Spine What Can Go Wrong
The low back supports the weight of the upper body and provides mobility for everyday motions such as bending and twisting. Muscles in the low back are responsible for flexing and rotating the hips while walking, as well as supporting the spinal column. Nerves in the low back supply sensation and power the muscles in the pelvis, legs, and feet.
Most acute low back pain results from injury to the muscles, ligaments, joints, or discs. The body also reacts to injury by mobilizing an inflammatory healing response. While inflammation sounds minor, it can cause severe pain.
There is a significant overlap of nerve supply to many of the discs, muscles, ligaments, and other spinal structures, and it can be difficult for the brain to accurately sense which is the cause of the pain. For example, a degenerated or torn lumbar disc can feel the same as a pulled muscle both creating inflammation and painful muscle spasm in the same area. Muscles and ligaments heal rapidly, while a torn disc may or may not. The time course of pain helps determine the cause.
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How Can I Manage My Symptoms
- Apply ice for 15 to 20 minutes every hour, or as directed. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel before you apply it to your skin. Ice decreases pain and helps prevent tissue damage.
- Apply heat for 20 to 30 minutes every 2 hours, or as directed. Heat helps decrease pain and muscle spasms.
- Use massage to loosen tense muscles. Massage may relieve back pain caused by tight muscles. Regular massages may help prevent this kind of back pain.
- Ask about acupuncture for pain relief. Back pain is sometimes relieved with acupuncture. Talk to your healthcare provider before you get this treatment to make sure it is safe for you.
Chronic Lower Back Pain
When back pain continues for more than three months, it is considered chronic. Although for most people an episode of back pain is over by that time, in some cases it progresses and can have a major impact on ones ability to function. For some patients, physical therapy with local heat or ice application , combined with a home exercise program and education in proper positions for lifting and other movement techniques can make a major difference. Patients must learn to tolerate a certain degree of pain, or they may allow themselves to become more disabled than necessary. Patients at the Hospital for Special Surgery have had success with graded exercise to work through the pain, gradually increasing the exercise quota at each session so they can learn to tolerate more exercise in spite of the pain, and get back to work and activities. Read more detail on this topic in .
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How Qi Treats Chronic Back Pain
- Isolation Treatment with device-based therapy: The weak muscles and tissues are identified and treated in isolation. They are strengthened and degeneration is arrested.
- Self-Care Exercise & Physical therapy: Exercises that strengthen your back and abdominal muscles, increases your flexibility should be practiced regularly. Other activities such as walking, cycling, swimming, etc can be done after consulting your doctor.
- Posture correction or posture improvement is a vital step for back pain treatment.
- Lifestyle changes such as engaging in physical activities, postural breaks, ergonomics correction
WHEN TO SEE A SPINE SPECIALIST?
Visit our nearest clinic for your first consultation
Who Should I See For Lower Back Pain
Your primary care physician knows you best and should be your first contact for lower back pain. If he or she is unable to diagnose or treat the issue, you may get referred to a specialist, such as a rehabilitation physician . These specialists practice a comprehensive approach to lower back pain, and can diagnose and treat a variety of conditions that have lower back pain as a symptom.
Later, you may get referred to a physical therapist, a chiropractor or another practitioner depending on the nature of your back pain. The good news is that surgery is rarely needed for lower back pain. Only about one in ten patients needs lower back surgery, Chhatre says.
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When To See A Healthcare Provider
Most cases of back pain last for a few days and resolve completely within a few weeks. If you have sudden, new back pain, you should contact your healthcare provider.
There are a few warning signs that immediate care is needed:
- The pain persists for more than a few days or is worsening.
- The pain wakes you up at night.
- You have a fever, chills, or other signs of infection.
- You have problems with bladder or bowel control.
- There are other symptoms you cannot explain.
When To Seek Medical Care For Back Pain
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has identified 11 red flagsthat doctors look for when evaluating a person with back pain. The focus of these red flags is to detect fractures , infections, or tumors of the spine. Presence of any of the following red flags associated with low back pain should prompt a visit to your doctor as soon as possible for complete evaluation.
- Recent significant trauma such as a fall from a height, motor vehicle accident, or similar incident
- Recent mild trauma in those older than 50 years of age: A fall down a few steps or slipping and landing on the buttocks may be considered mild trauma.
- History of prolonged steroid use: People with asthma, COPD, and rheumatic disorders, for example, may be given this type of medication.
- Anyone with a history of osteoporosis: An elderly woman with a history of a hip fracture, for example, would be considered high risk.
- Any person older than 70 years of age: There is an increased incidence of cancer, infections, and abdominal causes of the pain.
- Prior history of cancer
- Unexplained weight loss
The presence of any of the above would justify a visit to a hospital’s emergency department, particularly if your family doctor is unable to evaluate you within the next 24 hours.
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What Is Acute Mechanical Back Pain
Acute mechanical back pain is a common medical problem. Acute pain is pain that has been present in your back for less than four to six weeks. Mechanical means that the source of the pain may be in your spinal joints, discs, vertebrae, or soft tissues. Acute mechanical back pain may also be called acute low back pain, lumbago, idiopathic low back pain, lumbosacral strain or sprain, or lumbar syndrome.
What Is Lower Back Pain
Low back pain can result from many different injuries, conditions or diseases most often, an injury to muscles or tendons in the back.
Pain can range from mild to severe. In some cases, pain can make it difficult or impossible to walk, sleep, work or do everyday activities.
Usually, lower back pain gets better with rest, pain relievers and physical therapy . Cortisone injections and hands-on treatments can relieve pain and help the healing process. Some back injuries and conditions require surgical repair.
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Whats Behind Your Chronic Back Pain
Whether acute or chronic, back pain can leave us laid up for days. It can affect everything from the way we walk, sit and stand to our digestive, endocrine or neurovascular systems, says Clara Yan, an osteopathic manual practitioner with Satori Health and Wellness in Toronto.
Thankfully, the discomfort is treatable. Here are strategies for fighting six common causes of chronic back pain.
What Is The Prognosis For People With Chronic Pain
Chronic pain usually doesnt go away, but you can manage it with a combination of strategies that work for you. Current chronic pain treatments can reduce a persons pain score by about 30%.
Researchers continue to study pain disorders. Advances in neuroscience and a better understanding of the human body should lead to more effective treatments.
If you have chronic pain and depression and/or anxiety, its important to seek treatment for your mental health. Untreated depression and anxiety can make your pain worse and further lower your quality of life.
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What Causes Back Pain
The causes of back pain are not fully understood. Most people with back pain dont have any significant damage to their spine. The pain comes from the muscles, ligaments and joints.
Common causes of back pain include:
- repetitive or heavy lifting
- sudden awkward movement
There are also a number of things that can make it more likely that the back pain will become persistent, such as:
- already living with, or developing, negative beliefs about your chances of recovery
- already living with, or developing, depression or anxiety
- work-related issues.
In a very small number of people, back problems are caused by a serious condition such as cancer, inflammatory problems, infection, fracture or compression of the nerves in the spine. However this is rare, and your doctor will check for these causes.
Muscle Deconditioning And Poor Posture
People can condition their muscles over time to be stronger or more enduring through exercises and weight training.
The reverse is also true. Humans may decondition their muscles over time by not using them correctly.
In some muscles, including back muscles, deconditioning is as easy as sitting at a desk with incorrect posture for too long. A person may do this while at work.
Slouching in a chair over a desk may cause a loss of strength in the muscles. Over time, the weakening of muscles may lead to pain in the area as they experience strains or irritation.
When a person slouches, pressure from gravity and the body itself pushes on the spine, neck, discs, and ligaments. Over time, this pressure can lead to pain and other complications.
It is possible to condition the muscles to be stronger and more durable in most cases. This process starts with correcting the posture while sitting, and taking regular breaks from the desk to move around and stretch.
Exercises may also improve strength in the back, and using a standing desk can help, too.
Conditioning the muscle requires patience, however, and anyone with chronic upper back pain from weak muscles might benefit from seeing a physical therapist to find an exercise routine for their specific needs.
When Is Surgery A Good Idea For Back Pain
These red flags can be indicators for surgery, if theyre found to berelated to your spine condition:
- New or progressing bowel/bladder issues
- Weakness in limbs
- Gait and balance problems
- Evidence of increased reflexes
Surgery can also be an option for chronic back pain if there is a knowncause confirmed by imaging and if other treatments didnt help. Getopinions from at least two surgeons, suggests Nava, as pain can stillcome back after the surgery.
How Is Chronic Pain Treated
To relieve chronic pain, healthcare providers first try to identify and treat the cause. But sometimes they cant find the source. If so, they turn to treating, or managing, the pain.
Healthcare providers treat chronic pain in many different ways. The approach depends on many factors, including:
- The type of pain you have.
- The cause of your pain, if known.
- Your age and overall health.
The best treatment plans use a variety of strategies, including medications, lifestyle changes and therapies.
If you have chronic pain and depression and/or anxiety, its important to seek treatment for your mental health condition as well. Having depression or anxiety can make your chronic pain worse. For example, if you have depression, the fatigue, sleep changes and decreased activity it may cause can make your chronic pain worse.
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Nonspecific Low Back Pain
This is the most common type of back pain. The majority of cases of sudden-onset low back pain are classed as nonspecific. This is the type of back pain that most people will have at some point in their lives. It is called nonspecific because it is usually not clear what is actually causing the pain. In other words, there is no specific problem or disease that can be identified as the cause of the pain. The severity of the pain can vary from mild to severe. This type of back pain is discussed further below.
Talk About Your Physical Functioning Or Lack Of
Pain is more than a set of unpleasant sensations. It has the power to disrupt daily activities and lifelong dreams. Back pain can impair your ability to fully participate in both work and play, and even to do very basic things such as coughing and sneezing.
That said, your expectations and attitudes may play a determining role as to how much disability you experience when you have back pain. The ICSI, a group that provides guidance to healthcare providers treating back pain, asserts that giving up on yourself or your treatment may perpetuate the pain. In this case. giving up means disengaging from self-care activities. The ICSI says social support and spirituality very much factor into the healing equation.
Another thing that affects your ability to function during the time you deal with back pain is your own perception or appraisal of yourself as able to perform actions and tasks this is called self-efficacy. A study published in the European Journal of Pain found that back patients with strong self-efficacy had less disability.
During your physical exam, the healthcare provider will likely ask questions about your functioning and how it has changed since the pain started. She may also try to determine the level of pain you experience while at rest and during activities.
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You’ve Been In Pain For Over A Week
Most back pain will subside after a few days, but if you’ve been experiencing pain for over a week, then it’s time to call a doctor. Your doctor will perform any examinations or tests required to help get to the bottom of your pain before it could become a bigger problem. As is the case with many health conditions, prevention and addressing problems early is key.
Referred Pain To And From The Lumbar Spine
Pain in the area of the lumbar spine may be due to important problems that are actually unrelated to the back. Referred pain occurs when a problem in one place in the body causes pain in another place. The pain travels down a nerve.. Sources of referred pain to the low back may include abdominal aneurysm , tubal pregnancy, kidney stones, pancreatitis, and colon cancer. Clues to these maladies include pain that waxes and wanes over a short period, with frequent peaks of intense pain, weight loss, abnormalities found during abdominal exam, and trace amounts of blood in the urine. On the other hand, pain can be referred from the low back and be felt in another location, as is often the case with . For example, it is not rare for a patient with a slipped disc in the lower back to have pain in the back of the thigh, or in the calf or even the foot, and not have any low back pain. This situation requires a doctor to sort out the type of pain and to do the examination required to show that the pain is actually coming from the spine .
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