Is your chronic back pain driving you crazy? Do you feel like you have tried everything from painkillers to physiotherapy, but nothing seems to work? The truth is, not all treatments work for everyone, and the key to relieving your back pain may lie in a personalized treatment plan. In this blog post, we’ll explore the importance of a tailored treatment plan and how it can help you end back pain for good.
What is Back Pain?
Back pain is one of the most agonizing experiences one can deal with. Whether you’re sitting idly, lying in a hammock or simply walking, sudden back pains can surely bother you. Perhaps the worst part is how they hamper your productivity. No matter how hard you try to shake it off, the pain will likely be excruciating. Not only does this hurt you physically, but it can also impact you psychologically.
Contrary to popular belief, back pains don’t seem to impact one specific age range. Everyone gets them — senior citizens, adults, teenagers and even kids. But why? Aren’t they exclusive to the elderly? What does it mean to have an aching back? How do I get rid of the pain?
Types of Chronic Back Pain
Unfortunately, back pains are triggered in different parts of the back at varying degrees. These are all dependent on the underlying disorder, or the extent of stress exerted on the aching portion of your back. Back pains may occur on the nape, in the middle of your back, the lower part or even in its upper area.
Upper and Middle Back Pain
This type of back pain is characterized by mild to extreme degrees of soreness on the upper and central area. These portions of the back are located between the bottom of the ribcage and the base of the neck. The middle and uppermost back consists of the first 12 bones scientifically called the thoracic spine. That’s why this condition is also known as thoracic spine pain or TSP.
Stressed muscles, injuries and poor posture often cause this discomfort. Although less common than lower back pain, upper and middle back discomfort shouldn’t ever be ignored. Pain in the upper and middle part of the back can be a symptom of severe disorders.
Lower Back Pain
Lower back pain is a more typical case compared to upper back pain. It is often attributed to working habits, which are known as the top cause of this type of back discomfort. There are two known types of lower back pain — acute and chronic. Acute back pain is characterized by soreness lasting for a few days to a few weeks. The kind that lasts for more than three months is what is known as chronic lower back pain.
Apart from work as one of its leading causes, lower back pain is usually seen in adults aged 30-50 because certain fluids in the vertebrae start to decrease in volume. These liquids are needed to keep the spine strong and healthy.
Although the neck does not constitute the back, soreness in the neck area is still linked to back problems. The reason is due to the fact that the base of the neck and the upper region of the back share the same area called the thoracic region.
If you feel any pain in the nape, the back part of your neck, you may want to consider the possibility of upper back problems.
Lower Back Pain Causes
Depending on the severity, back pain causes manifest from the simplest activities to the most intense conditions. Browse through the list below and see which ones are most likely behind your back pain.
Posture and Locomotion
Observe yourself. Are you sitting erectly? Is your back lying straight against the bed? Are your shoulders drooping as you walk? You may not have noticed, but the way you hold your body in every situation has massive effects on your back’s condition. This is why it doesn’t come as a surprise that you feel back pains mostly at work — where finishing tasks is the priority, thus you’re likely forgetting about the value of maintaining good posture.
Below is a list of positions to refrain from to avoid back pain. See if you ever notice doing any of these triggers:
- Straining the neck forward (usually done in driving and using a laptop)
- Awkwardly bending
- Bending for lengthy periods
- Standing or sitting for long periods (as is the case of driving without breaks)
- Lifting too many heavy objects
- Lifting objects in the wrong position
- Sleeping on a lumpy mattress (not conducive for straightening the back)
- Sleeping with your back arched
- Sudden movements
If you have any of the ones listed, it’s best to reconsider your usual posture. Avoiding improper posture is a tough habit to break. There’s no doubt about it. However, if you do so diligently, your efforts will surely alleviate the pain.
Lack of Exercise
Interestingly, our bodies work the same way as machines in the absence of necessary locomotion. If rust is for engines, back pains are for people. Lack of movement will cause stiffness of the spine and weakening of muscles. Take a little time off every day at work to stretch and move around your office, school or home. On your days off, make sure to find time to move your body. Jog, do yoga, walk, cycle, etc. Just don’t allow your back to stay idle and fall into stagnation.
Obesity is a significant risk factor for back pain, especially among older adults. Being overweight puts excess pressure on the spine, leading to chronic pain and discomfort. Losing weight through a combination of diet and exercise is an effective way to alleviate back pain due to obesity.
A sedentary lifestyle, characterized by long hours of sitting or lying down, can weaken the back muscles, leading to back pain. Regular exercise, including stretching, strength training, and aerobic activities, can help improve posture, strengthen the muscles, and alleviate back pain.
Posture and movement aren’t the only culprits behind your back pains. At times, our bone structure may be the reason why some of us can’t become free from back pain. Read through this list to learn more about common structural disorders. If you’re demonstrating any of these conditions, seek a doctor’s consultation to diagnose your discomfort.
Degenerative Disc Disease
This condition occurs when the discs in the spine start to break down, leading to wear and tear and reduced cushioning between the vertebrae. This wear and tear lead to property damage in the spine and tissue damage. Treatment options depend on the severity of the condition, but they generally include physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications, chiropractic care, and rarely, surgery.
Back pain can be a result of the thinning of bones, which can cause porosity. When brittleness gets the best of your spine, this can cause aching of the back.
This condition occurs when the cartilage cushioning the ends of the spinal bones break down and these ends meet to form the vertebrae. When movement occurs, the weak vertebrae can irritate the back, thus making it excruciatingly painful.
Bulging and Ruptured Disks
Disks serve the purpose as cushions to each vertebra of the spine. When they become ruptured or protrude, more pressure is applied on a nerve or set of nerves, which results in back pains.
A twisted or curved spine is called scoliosis. This condition results in the ribcage’s relocation from its normal position. As a result, excessive strain is applied to the muscles of the back, hence creating pains and discomforts.
Expectant women are also at risk of suffering from back pains. Not only do they eat for two, but they also have the burden of carrying two. Added weight on the body caused by the infant exerts added pressure on the spine, which causes an increased risk when the pregnant woman stands.
To protect the back, positions like sitting or lying down exemplify more advisable choices. Consuming food and beverages rich in calcium may also help relieve back pain.
It’s important to note that preventive measures should also be taken to reduce the risk of developing structural irregularities. Maintaining a healthy weight, practicing good posture, stretching regularly, and avoiding activities that strain the back can all help prevent damage to the spine. If you already have a structural issue, staying active and following an exercise program tailored to your specific condition can also be beneficial in reducing pain and improving function.
Is Back Pain an Early Sign of Pregnancy?
Back pain during pregnancy is quite common and often occurs due to the changes happening in the body. As the fetus grows, it shifts the center of gravity forward, causing an imbalance in the body, which puts extra pressure on the lower back and pelvic region. This pressure can lead to pain and discomfort, especially during the later stages of pregnancy. However, back pain can also be an early sign of pregnancy, happening even before a woman may confirm being pregnant.
Can Back Pain Cause Constipation?
To understand how back pain can cause constipation, it’s important to understand the anatomy of the back and digestive system. The lower spine is home to the nerves that control the colon and rectum. If these nerves are compressed or damaged, they can interfere with the normal function of the digestive system, leading to constipation, bloating, and other digestive problems.
Is Back Pain Cancer?
Back pain is a common ailment that affects millions of people around the world. This pain can be caused by various factors including arthritis, injuries, poor posture, and muscle strains. However, in some cases, back pain could be a sign of cancer. If you’re experiencing unexplained back pain, it could be time to see a doctor.
When Back Pain is an Emergency
It’s important to recognize the signs and symptoms of when back pain is an emergency and seek medical help promptly. Remember, seeking timely medical help can help you prevent complications and recover faster.
Persistent Back Pain
If your back pain persists for more than a few weeks, it could be a sign of an underlying condition such as a herniated disc, spinal stenosis, or arthritis. These conditions require medical attention, and delaying treatment can lead to complications. It’s essential to seek medical help if your pain persists even after taking over-the-counter pain medication, rest, or lifestyle changes.
Back Pain with Fever or Chills
If your back pain is accompanied by fever or chills, it could be a sign of an infection. Infections in the spine, such as osteomyelitis or discitis, can be life-threatening if left untreated. Seek medical attention immediately if you experience back pain with fever or chills.
Sudden and Severe Back Pain
If you experience sudden, severe back pain, it could be a sign of an injury, such as a fracture or a dislocation. In some cases, sudden and severe back pain could indicate a medical emergency such as a ruptured aneurysm, which can cause internal bleeding and requires immediate medical attention.
Loss of Bladder or Bowel Control
If you experience a loss of bladder or bowel control, it could be a sign of a serious condition such as cauda equina syndrome, which is a rare but severe condition that requires immediate medical attention. Cauda equina syndrome is caused by compression of the nerves in the lower part of the spine and can lead to permanent paralysis if left untreated.
Back Pain with Numbness or Weakness
If you experience back pain with numbness or weakness in your legs, it could be a sign of a herniated disc or spinal stenosis. These conditions require immediate medical attention as they can cause permanent nerve damage if left untreated.
Will Back Pain Ever Go Away?
Unfortunately, in some cases, there may not be a cure for chronic back pain. In these cases, the best approach is to focus on managing the pain and maintaining a good quality of life. This can involve making lifestyle changes such as improving your diet and getting regular exercise, finding ways to reduce stress, and incorporating relaxation techniques such as meditation or yoga. Additionally, it may be helpful to seek out support from a counselor or a support group to help you cope with the emotional toll of living with chronic pain.
Preventing Back Pain
Of course, the best way to deal with chronic pain is to prevent it from happening in the first place. This means taking care of your body by maintaining a healthy weight, taking regular breaks during prolonged sitting or standing, exercising regularly, and wearing supportive shoes. Additionally, be mindful of your posture and body mechanics while performing tasks like lifting heavy objects or participating in sports activities.
Back Pain for Women
Women are biologically different from men, and this can contribute to back pain. Women tend to have a wider pelvis, which places a strain on the lower back. Hormonal changes during pregnancy, menstruation, and menopause can also cause back pain. Women tend to have weaker abdominal and back muscles, which can lead to poor posture and eventually lead to back pain. Additionally, women who lead active lifestyles, such as athletes or gym-goers, are also more prone to back pain due to repetitive activities.
Back Pain in Men
Back pain in men can be caused by a variety of factors, including poor posture, heavy lifting, repetitive motions, obesity, smoking, and lack of exercise. Age-related degeneration of muscles and discs in the spine is also one of the common causes of back pain in men. Certain medical conditions such as sciatica, herniated disc, and spinal stenosis can also lead to back pain.
Back Pain Treatment
Fortunately, there are many treatment options available for managing pain. But with so many choices out there, it can be overwhelming to choose the right one that works best for you. In this post, we’ll explore the best treatment options for managing back pain, so you can make an informed choice and start living pain-free.
In some cases, medications may be prescribed to manage pain or inflammation. Your doctor may prescribe muscle relaxants, opioids, or other prescription-strength pain relievers. It’s important to note that these medications come with potential side effects, so they should be used under close medical supervision.
Another popular treatment option for back pain is chiropractic care. A chiropractor can perform spinal manipulation or adjustments to help alleviate aches and realign the spine. They may also recommend massage therapy or other complementary treatments to help increase blood flow and reduce muscle tension.
This ancient Chinese technique has been used for centuries to help alleviate discomfort and promote healing. Acupuncture involves the insertion of thin needles into specific pressure points on the body to help regulate the flow of energy. Many people find that acupuncture is effective in treating backache and other chronic conditions.
Physical therapy is a non-invasive treatment option that alleviates backache and prevent it from recurring. A physical therapist will create a personalized treatment plan based on your symptoms, medical history, and lifestyle. The plan may include exercises, stretches, and massages that help alleviate discomfort, improve flexibility, and strengthen the muscles in your back and core.
Surgery is usually a last resort when all other treatments have failed. It may be necessary for cases of severe pain due to underlying conditions like spinal stenosis or herniated discs. Surgery may involve removing damaged discs or vertebrae, or fusing the vertebrae together to stabilize the spine. Recovery time and success rates of surgery vary depending on the severity of the condition.
Supplements for Back Pain
Proper posture and regular exercises are not the only backache remedies available. Below are some supplements to possibly treat your backache.
Glucosamine and Chondroitin
These supplements are known to possibly relieve arthritis pain. If you have this condition, you might want to consider them. According to a study performed in 2016, supplementing with glucosamine had a positive effect in treating osteoarthritis.
Glucosamine is a compound found in cartilage that helps maintain joint health. Supplementing with glucosamine may help reduce inflammation and pain in the back and other joints. Some studies suggest that glucosamine supplements can help slow down the degeneration of the spine and improve its function.
Just be careful with your dosages. These supplements have been known to react with blood-thinning medications, such as aspirin. If you are taking these medicines, it is best to consider other backache supplements.
Magnesium is a mineral that is essential for muscle and nerve function. Low levels of magnesium have been linked to an increased risk of muscle pain and spasms, including back pain. One study found that a magnesium supplement reduced the frequency and intensity of back pain in people with fibromyalgia. You can get magnesium from supplements and certain foods such as nuts, seeds, and leafy green vegetables.
Methylsulfonylmethane has been scientifically proven to relieve pain caused by arthritis. When supplementing with MSM, take 1,000-1,300 milligrams up to four times per day.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Fish oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce inflammation in the body. Studies have also shown that fish oil supplements can reduce pain and inflammation in people with rheumatoid arthritis. Fish oil can be taken as a supplement or added to your diet through fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and sardines.
Bromelain allegedly can reduce inflammation. This supplement is not advisable for people with peptic ulcers and those taking blood-thinning and antibiotic medications. A review of clinical studies found that taking 400 milligrams of bromelain daily relieved osteoarthritis.
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that is important for bone health. Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to an increased risk of back pain and other musculoskeletal conditions. One study found that people with low levels of vitamin D were twice as likely to experience back pain as those with normal levels. You can get vitamin D from sunlight, supplements, and certain foods such as fatty fish and fortified dairy products
There are some natural remedies that may soothe back discomfort. These include herbs such as turmeric, willow bark, devil’s claw and capsaicin cream. Although they are naturally made, supplements require caution.
When to See a Doctor
As the term already implies, back pains suggest problems in your back to rectify. However, a troubled back can often be a sign of another ailing body part. In turn, seek professional help because some disorders are linked with back pain, as noted:
- Kidney failure
- Spinal cancer
- Problems with one’s bladder
- Bowel troubles
- Sciatica (discomfort spreading to the back of the legs)
- Dysfunctional sex organs
- Ovarian cysts
Again, consult a doctor when your backache spreads to other parts of your body. There are instances when those suffering from backaches also experience complications with controlling one’s bladder. At times, the mere act of coughing can trigger backache that lasts for days. Fever can also result in back discomfort. When you feel any discomfort or irritation in any part of your body that does not reside in the back, visit a doctor immediately.
The Bottom Line
In sum, backache is a major discomfort. Aching in the upper area, the middle and lower portions reflect conditions that occur to any age range. While an excruciatingly painful condition, back pain relief is possible. Observing proper posture and regular exercise are among the most cost effective remedies. There are also supplements available for this particular condition. Herbs are another option worth considering for touted therapeutic properties.
Contrary to its name, it’s not a problem merely confined to the back alone. Your back problems may be a warning of a more severe underlying condition that you are unaware of having. In this case, professional help is essential. Have yourself checked right away before your unknown situation escalates into something much worse.
A tailored treatment plan is a step in the right direction towards ending your back pain for good. By recognizing that every patient is unique and taking a personalized approach to your treatment, you can gain control over your pain while working towards better health. So, don’t hesitate to speak to your healthcare provider today and start your journey towards ending it for good.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease