Very few people are lucky enough to be completely free from back pain during a lifetime of possibility for injury, with a daunting 80% of Americans being impacted eventually. Some risk factors for back problems are beyond anyone’s control, while others can be controlled with lifestyle changes that improve the odds of a healthy back. Like much of the human body, the back is no different in its ability to heal itself. Interestingly enough, many sufferers get better without any treatment, recovering over time.
Causes of Back Pain
A point that is noteworthy when discussing back pain is that the pain represents a symptom and not an actual diagnosis. There are many causes of back pain. Consulting with a doctor and explaining symptoms is the best way to determine possible causes and treatments.
Injuries account for a large percentage of back problems. Fractures and spine injuries are to blame for many back issues. Twisting is one way to sprain your back. This type of motion can tear ligaments in your back. Lifting improperly is another way that people cause ligament damage resulting in pain. Yet another recognized contributor, the disease of osteoporosis causes bones to be weak which results in fractures. Less common are falls and accidents that also cause many back injuries.
Diseases and acquired conditions can also be blamed for back conditions. Scoliosis, which is often referred to as curvature of the spine, can cause pain in mid-life, but does not typically create pain for younger adults or children with the condition. Various types of arthritis are also likely culprits responsible for back pain. Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are two common maladies associated with back discomfort. Other diseases linked to back problems include spondylolisthesis, ankylosing spondylitis, and spinal stenosis. Pregnancy, kidney stones, infections, endometriosis and fibromyalgia.
Infections and tumors are the least likely cause of back pain, but they can cause it. Osteomyelitis is a condition describing infections in the vertebrae. Discitis is an infection of the discs around the vertebrae.
Types of Back Pain
Axial pain, or mechanical pain is the main reason people experience back problems. Muscle stress is a typical cause. Sharp or dull pain is categorized as axial pain. Muscle pain is often labelled as axial pain.
Referred pain is characteristically described as pain that varies in intensity and is known for radiating around the body. Pain that suddenly migrates into the groin, buttocks or upper thigh is acknowledged as a symptom associated with referred pain. Degenerative pain may be felt in the hips or thigh region.
The pain that is described as a sensation that permeates through your arms and legs is described as radicular pain. This type of sensation is often defined as a sensation of numbness or a tingling sensation. Sciatica can be the result of a herniated disc, which means that chronic problems may be easily rectified.
Debunking Common Myths about Back Pain
Not that many years ago, doctors sent patients suffering from back home to rest as advice for getting better. It is obvious today that sleeping off back pain is not helpful. While some sufferers find that they are unable to exercise during particularly painful symptoms, most mobile patients are advised to engage in moderate exercise. Walking, swimming and yoga is recommended for many patients as a path to relief for improving the pain.
Back pain is personal and can be complicated to understand. Another common myth about back pain is that if the doctor is unable to find the source of your pain, then it must be all in your head. As frustrating as it can be when doctors are unable to isolate the source of the back pain quickly, that does not mean that the pain does not exist. There are situations when finding a way to relieve the pain is more important than a concrete explanation about the source. Getting a second opinion is highly recommended in situations where the first physician cannot identify the source of the pain.