Millions of people suffer from back pain and resort to addictive pain killers that may have short and long term side effects. It is however better to understand the root cause of the back pain in order to treat the problem rather than the symptom.
10 of the most common causes of back pain and ways to find relief from the ongoing discomfort include:
- Stress and Anxiety
Stress is probably the #1 cause of back pain and is normally felt in the upper back, shoulders and neck area. Stress results in tension in the muscles causing them to become tight and knotted. Massage is a good way to release this tension and get relief from back pain associated with stress and anxiety.
Stress relieving techniques such as meditation can prevent this type of back pain altogether. Exercises that stretch and loosen tight muscles will also provide relief.
Bad sitting, standing and walking posture puts pressure on the spinal column which can result in constricted or pinched nerves. This type of pain is normally present in the middle of the back but can also in the upper and lower (lumbar) regions.
Correcting posture is the obvious way to relieve and prevent this type of back pain. Wearing a back brace, flat shoes and finding a suitable chair can help alleviate the pain. Massage and other types of therapy such as seeing a chiropractor can assist with back pain caused by poor posture.
A bad sleeping posture, bad mattress or incorrect pillows may cause back pain, especially in the lower or lumbar region. Investing in a quality mattress and pillows can go a long way to alleviating some types of back pain. Changing a sleeping position can also be highly effective.
- Spinal Conditions
As we age, wear and tear takes its toll on the discs that form the spinal column. This can result in the cartilage or soft bone that acts like a cushion between the vertebrae deteriorating or collapsing resulting in severe back pain and may be referred to as Degenerative Disk Disease. This type of back pain normally occurs in the lumbar region and can be very intense especially in motion.
Herniated or slipped discs are the most common result of wear and tear but may also result from an injury like lifting a heavy object. Most commonly, this type of pain is treated with pain and anti-inflammatory medication but it is likely that surgery will become necessary to correct the problem and alleviate the discomfort permanently.
Sciatica is caused by pressure on the sciatic nerve which runs all the way from the lower back down the leg. This pain can be acute and stabbing or present as a chronic (long term) ache that may be felt in the lower back, hip and run down the thigh into the calf muscle.
Treatment for sciatica often involves anti-inflammatory medication to reduce the pressure on the sciatic nerve. Pain killers may also be prescribed on a short term basis. Physical therapy and exercise may also alleviate the pressure. Surgery may be recommended as a last resort.
- Spinal Stenosis
Spinal Stenosis is a condition that results in the spinal canal becoming narrowed. This causes pressure on the nerves in the back resulting in pain. This condition becomes more common as we age and mainly occurs in people over the age of 60 years. It presents with back pain that is often accompanied by numbness in the shoulders and legs.
Pain and anti-inflammatory medication are commonly used to treat Spinal Stenosis. Physical therapy, exercise and massage can also alleviate the pain. Surgery may be recommended as a last resort.
Arthritis causes inflammation (swelling) and pain in the joints. This can result in back pain although the condition commonly affects other areas of the body.
The condition may be treated with a combination of analgesic and other pain relieving medications as well as anti-inflammatory medications. Corticosteroids as well as DMARDS (Disease Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drugs) and Biologic medications may also be prescribed to treat arthritis. In some cases, surgery may be recommended as a last resort.
- Kidney Disease
The kidneys are located in the lumbar region of the back. Constant, aching pain in this area may be indicative of a kidney infection or kidney disease. Pain may occur on one side of the lower back or on both depending on whether one or both kidneys are being affected.
Drug therapy may be recommended as well as dialysis. Depending on the severity of the disease, a kidney may be removed or replaced with a donor organ where necessary.
Tumorous growths on the spine can result on pressure on the spinal cord as well as nerves. This may be due to a malignant (cancerous) or benign (non-cancerous) growth. In most cases, medication will be provided to attempt to shrink the tumor.
However, in cases where the tumor is cancerous, surgery may be recommended to remove the tumor especially where the growth is rapid. In cases, where the risks of surgery are considered to be too high, radiation treatment, chemotherapy or other cancer treatments may be prescribed to eliminate the growth.
Infections that are caused by bacteria, viruses or are fungal in nature may result in back pain although these types of infections are far less common. Infections are treated with antibiotics, antiviral or antifungal medications. Most commonly, this type of treatment will be provided in a hospital setting due to the risk that these types of infections can present. Pain killers, as well as anti-inflammatory drugs may also be prescribed.
The causes of back pain can be very treatable or extremely serious. It is therefore highly recommended to seek a valid medical diagnosis for back pain as soon as possible rather to only resort to over the counter or other types of therapies and treatments such as pain patches from Luminas. It is also important to remember that back pain is often the symptom of a much more serious underlying condition.