Back Pain Fundamentals: What it is, how to prevent it, and how to treat it.
Back pain can be uncomfortable, debilitating and take away from enjoyable activities. For Americans, it is one of the biggest issues inhibiting mobility and day-to-day activity. The American Chiropractic Association states that back pain accounts for more than 264 million lost work days in one year, which equates to two work days for every full-time worker in the country and, experts estimate that up to 80% of the population will experience back pain some time in their lives.
Back pain can affect people of any age, however your chances of developing back pain increase as you get older. There is a broad spectrum of back pain severity, ranging from acute to chronic. Acute pain can last anywhere from a few days, to a few weeks, whereas chronic back pain is persistent and often lasts for three months or longer. Each back pain case is different and should be assessed and treated on a case-by-case basis, but it is important to be aware of the symptoms, risks associated, preventative measures that can be taken and treatment options.
Preventative measures to curb the onset of back pain include simple and tangible activities. This will not only reduce pain, but also reduce an excess of overhead costs down the road. Capitalizing on these preventative measure will benefit your overall health and reduce the onset of back pain. Our strategies include:
- Stand and sit straight, always pay attention to your posture
- Have an active lifestyle
- Refrain from lifting heavy objects, or, when doing so, make sure you engage your leg muscles to avoid putting excessive strain on your back
- Maintain a healthy diet and weight
- Avoid prolonged inactivity or rest
- Strengthen your core through exercise to help stabilize your back muscles
The development of back pain varies by situation. Symptoms change based on the individual, their overall health, and the circumstances surrounding their back pain. Some symptoms of back pain can include, but are not exclusive to:
- Inflammation or swelling
- Shooting/ stabbing pain
- Pain down the legs
- Pain that worsens with movement
- Pain that improves after reclining
Anyone can be susceptible to developing back pain, and because of this it is important to be aware of the risk factors surrounding the too-common condition. A weak core and surrounding spinal muscles can predispose an individual to a back injury, so it is important to be active and strengthen those muscles – you can read our blog “Chiropractors and core strength; why do they believe it is so important?” for more information! Excessive weight can also be a contributing risk factor to back pain therefore it is important to follow a healthy diet coupled with an active lifestyle to minimize your risk. Eliminating smoking can be an effective way to reduce risk of back pain. Smoking decreases the blood flow to the lower back, reducing the nutrients carried to the disks in between your vertebrae, which can result in a ruptured or bulging disk. Back pain can be triggered by a broad spectrum of behaviors, and is sometimes unavoidable. But by being aware of key risk factors and looking after your well-being, you will not only feel better but also reduce the likelihood of developing pain.
At Auburn Chiropractic Associates, we see many different situations as back pain has numerous causes. It can be the result of a muscle or ligament strain, a bulging or ruptured disk, arthritis, osteoporosis, or skeletal irregularities. Strain, structural problems, posture and sudden movements can also be catalysts for instantaneous back pain. Straining your back can be a repercussion of heavy lifting or awkward sudden movements so it is important that you are mindful of your body when completing tasks. Osteoporosis and arthritis affect the bone density and functionality in your body, which when it begins to have an effect on the spine result in both bone damage and back injuries. Spinal conditions that cause curvatures like scoliosis, can lead to spinal discomfort because of structural problems and skeletal irregularities.
There are various ways to effectively treat back pain, however nearly all cases should engage a professional for an assessment before commencing any form of treatment. The American College of Physicians (ACP) updated its low back pain treatment guidelines in 2017 to favor a more conservative approach to care due to the opioid epidemic. According to ACP, prescription opioids should be a last resort for those suffering from back pain, as the risk of addiction may outweigh benefits.
For acute pain, you can try engaging in light activity to increase mobility, and reclining your body can often dull the throbbing sensation, but this will not necessarily fix your injury or issue for the long term. Chronic back pain should be taken seriously and should follow an individualized treatment plan from a Chiropractor. Chiropractors often work with the musculoskeletal and nervous systems to aid their overall functionality. Chiropractors offer a broad range of services from rehabilitative exercises to spinal adjustments. Research supports spinal manipulation and asserts that manipulation is a safe and effective nondrug spine pain treatment. It reduces pain, rapidly advances physical therapy, and requires very few passive forms of treatment, such as bed rest. Chiropractic care also believes in taking a holistic approach to your situation and can positively contribute to your overall health and well-being.
Americans suffer from back pain every day, making even the smallest tasks difficult to accomplish. Educating yourself on how to prevent back pain, potential risk factors, and available treatment options are all essential to reduce its impact on your life.
If back pain persists, chiropractic treatment can be a sure way to return your body to a functional healthy state. At Auburn Chiropractic Associates, we work through your issues, providing treatment that works toward relieving back pain. We work with you to provide an individualized treatment plan to ensure prevention for the future. Contact us today to book an appointment.