If you have ever experienced or struggled with back pain, you will know that it can have quite the debilitating effect on your daily life. Small and easy tasks you never paid mind to before can become monumental and undoable.
Back pain can be grouped into two categories, acute back pain or chronic back pain (neuropathic back pain, a condition where your brain continues to send signals that cause pain in the back even after the physical problem has been resolved, can be grouped with chronic back pain).
Acute back pain is usually caused by a sudden injury to any part of the back. Acute back pain is usually easier to resolve and does not last as long as chronic back pain.
Chronic back pain can be much more difficult to solve than acute back pain as the cause of chronic back pain can sometimes be unclear and these causes can vary quite widely. Chronic back pain, as the name suggests, can also either last for months, years or even a lifetime.
Understanding Back Pain
To understand what exactly back pain is and what it is caused you, you need to understand what your back itself is made up of.
Without getting too technical, your back is made up of your muscles (the complex network made up of soft tissues pivotal to joint stabilization and movement), ligaments (the fibrous connective tissue that connects and holds your bones together), nerves and your spine.
Injuring or suffering from an infection in any of these different parts of your back will likely result in different kinds of back pain and require different methods and periods of time to ease this pain.
Some Common Causes of Back Pain
There are a plethora of reasons that you may be experiencing back pain, and in order to start the process of ridding yourself of back pain, you need to understand what is causing your back pain in the first place. A few common causes of back pain include but are not limited to;
- Injuring either your spine, muscles or ligaments; lifting a heavy object the wrong way or a sports related injury or a fall could all result in damage being done to the spine or the muscles and ligaments in your back. In most cases an injury like this will result in acute back pain.
- Slipping a disc; also known as a herniated disc or a pinched nerve, is when the softer tissue within your spinal disc pushes through a crack or tear in the outer shell and irritate spinal nerves, causing backpain. A herniated disc can be caused by physical exertion, being overweight or you may be genetically predisposed to the condition.
- Osteoporosis; osteoporosis is a condition in which the flexible tissue that covers the end of your bones begin to wear down and the bones begin to rub against one another which causes pain. When this happens in your spine it can lead to spine or compression fractures which cause intense back pain and make it hard to do anything from walking to sitting down.
- Scoliosis; scoliosis, a neuromuscular condition, is characterized as a curvature of the spine caused by the miscommunication between your brain and body specifically when it comes to the strength your body needs for any kind of movement and the position of your body. Scoliosis can cause back pain as the curvature in the spine puts pressure on ligaments, muscles, nerves and bones in the back.
- A bacterial or fungal infection; kidney and spinal infections can both result in back pain. It is estimated that as much os 40% of chronic pain the lower back can be attributed to infections.
How to Control or Reduce Back Pain
Finding the right means to control, reduce or get rid of your back pain once again will depend on what the cause of your back pain is.
You may be prescribed medication for both acute and chronic back pain. There are a plethora of medications that have been specifically developed for different degrees of back pain. The most common forms of medication for back pain are;
- Painkillers; painkillers will intercept signals the brain sends out alerting your body to the pain you are feeling. Painkillers come in a wide variety of strengths may only provide temporary relief from back pain but people living with chronic back pain may not be able to function without them.
- Antiinflammatories; antiinflammatory medication can be taken as a tablet or applied topically as a cream. Anti Inflammatory medication basically works to reduce any swelling within the muscles and ligaments in your back which will result in pain reduction.
- Muscle relaxants; muscle relaxants affect your nervous system and not just your muscles, as the name suggests. Taking a muscle relaxant will cause various structure within your body, including the muscles, to relax which will result in temporary pain relief.
- Corticosteroids; corticosteroids are a type of steroid hormone which also lessen inflammation in the body resulting in easing of pain.
- Antidepressants; antidepressants are probably not the first medication that pops into your mind when thinking about back pain but antidepressants can actually result in a moderate reduction in pain if taken long term.
Seeing a Chiropractor
Chiropractors manipulate and align your musculoskeletal structure using only their hands and no medication. By manipulating your musculoskeletal structure, chiropractors can restore full mobility to restricted joints and relieve pain.
Spinal manipulation, or spinal adjustment, is when a chiropractor uses what is known as controlled force to adjust areas of your spine that may have moved out of place. Spinal manipulation is also used to relieve pain caused by pinched nerves by reducing any pressure on these nerves. Chiropractic care can have positive results in diminishing both acute and chronic back pain.
Massage therapy is used to relax any muscles that are carrying tension. Straining your back muscles can cause immense back pain and massage therapy can be used as a method to work the strained muscles which will result in extra blood flow to the muscles, helping the damaged muscles heal quicker.
Massaging injured muscles also removes cellular waste and any fluids that have built up from the area of injury. Massage therapy is a good option for anyone suffering from acute back pain as this kind of back pain is more likely to be caused by a sudden injury usually to the muscles or ligaments in the back.
Exercising (without over exerting yourself!) can be better for alleviating back pain than resting your back. Light exercise will alleviate any stiffness in your muscles, release endorphins which can naturally ease pain and strengthen your back muscles.
Please speak to a doctor to determine if light exercise is the right option for you before attempting it.
Applying Heat and Ice
Applying heat and ice is a common method for treating acute back pain usually directly after a physical injury to the back.
Applying heat and ice to the injured area of your back one after another can relieve swelling, inflammation and pain for a short period of time.
Acupuncture is considered to be an effective tool when it comes to treating back pain, especially chronic lower back pain.
Acupuncture stimulates the central nervous system as well as the spinal cord through the insertion of acupuncture needles into the skin. The kind of or severity of back pain will determine where on your back or how deep into your back the needles will be inserted.
Yoga and Stretching
Learning how to perform and hold various yoga poses actually strengthens your back and abdominal muscles. If your abdominal and back muscles are weak, you will have a problem with your posture and your movement which can both cause lower back pain.
Yoga also involves a lot of stretching which will reduce any tension being held in your back muscles. Your balance, posture and flexibility can all be improved through yoga which all have positive effects on acute and chronic back pain.