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If you suffer from back pain, you’re not alone. According to the American Chiropractic Association, it is estimated that up to 80% of the people in this country will find themselves with some type of back pain in their lifetime. It is the second leading reason people visit their doctors other than for an upper-respiratory infection. Among working people it is the number one reason for disability benefits.
Back pain can start out as simply as turning the wrong way to severe inflammation in the lower back due to an auto accident or a fall. While it may be impossible to avoid an auto accident, there are preventive measures you can take to cut down on your chances of ending up with back pain.
This article will cover the different types of back pain, common causes, and an up-to-date list of treatments to help relieve pain and discomfort in your back. There are home remedies that might do the trick but you will also learn when and if you should consider a surgical procedure.
You might want to read: Exercises to Relieve Back Pain
Common Causes of Back Pain and Ways to Treat Them
While you can’t control how old you are there are other causes of back pain that you can do something about to keep from suffering needlessly. Here are some causes of back pain and some solutions you can implement right away.
You start out with a few extra pounds and before you know it you have packed on 20, 30 or even more extra pounds. It’s easier than ever to not just become overweight but to reach the level of morbid obesity. Eating more than you should and not offsetting it with exercise of any kind is a recipe for disaster.
Treatments: Start today to cut down on your food intake. Every extra pound that you carry on your body translates into four times that amount on your back and knees. If you even lose 5 pounds you have alleviated 20 pounds of extra pressure.
2. Poor nutrition
Eating and drinking foods and beverages that have little or no nutritional values is easy to do when you don’t set up a food plan that suits your body type and lifestyle. If you travel much of the time you should plan your meals in advance so you don’t succumb to fast foods or vending machines. As the saying goes, when you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
Treatments: There are many foods that are known to increase inflammation so why not eliminate them from your daily diet? Replace the empty calories in sugary drinks and soda with water. Keep yourself hydrated at all times. Instead of reaching for junk food, keep fresh fruits and vegetables handy in your fridge.
This bad habit interferes with blood flow and oxygen levels not to mention the development of a smoker’s cough that just makes matters worse.
Treatments: If you smoke, stop as soon as you can. The bad news is there are no proven benefits of smoking; the good news is your body can recover from nicotine addiction and return your lungs back to normal. There are more ways than ever to quit; ask your doctor if you need help.
This occurs when you put a strain on your back by lifting objects that are too heavy for you to transport comfortably. The result is excruciating stress and pain to your back.
Treatments: A professional mover knows the importance of protecting his back when lifting heavy things. If you can’t avoid this scenario, at least invest in a back brace that will help to support your back and protect you from future problems.
5. Incorrect footwear
Wearing the wrong shoes can have a major impact on the status of your back. Shoes that are too high or that shift the balance of your weight can begin damaging your back and lead to a painful situation.
Treatments: Many times we will feel discomfort right away if we are wearing the wrong shoes; other times the pain doesn’t show up until later on. There are stores that are dedicated to giving you footwear options that are both stylish and comfortable. High heels can do severe damage and should be avoided at all costs. Once you wear shoes that provide you with the support you need and the comfort you deserve you won’t go back to ill-fitting footwear again.
6. Bad posture
Poor posture as well as sitting in the same slumped position at your desk for long periods of time contribute greatly to a sore back.
Treatments: Whenever you slouch or hold yourself in a slumped position while sitting at your desk for long periods of time you are going to put pressure on your back and end up experiencing deep lower back pain. You may want to check out these lumbar support pillows so you can avoid future incidents. The good news is that these cushions are portable so you can bring them with you whenever you expect to be seated for a long period of time.
Lack of exercise can make your muscles weak and when your abdomen, or core, become inactive and there is no support, it puts added pressure on your back.
Treatments: If you are not exercising on a regular basis, try to find some form of action you can add to your daily routine to get your body moving. You can walk for 10 to 15 minutes a day or follow an exercise program online.
Make sure that if you do have a regular exercise program in place that you stretch your body first so that your muscles are properly warmed up.
Medical Conditions That Can Result in Back Pain
When it comes to back pain, there are several medical conditions that can leave you with mild to severe back pain. There are home remedies you can implement to treat your pain but depending on the level of discomfort you may have to consult your physician for stronger options.
This condition moves slowly and with few symptoms. As people get older their physician will request that they get a bone density scan to see if they have osteoporosis. Once diagnosed there are medications that can be prescribed to begin the recovery process. The more brittle the bones become the more easily they can suffer from compression fractures.
- Cold packs can help bring down inflammation.
- A heating pad can sooth aching muscles.
- Even though you may be in pain, start out slowly with an exercise program or physical therapy sessions.
- Alternative treatments, such as acupuncture actually help to ease the pain from this illness.
If you can’t get in to see a massage therapist try one of the massage products listed here.
2. Spinal Stenosis
This condition occurs when certain spaces in the spine begin to become more narrow. This causes extra pressure on the spinal cord and mostly affects the adjoining nerves and the lower back. Spinal stenosis can also be brought on through herniated disks, an injury to the spine, thickening of the ligaments in the back, bone spurs, and tumors.
- Work with your doctor to see which prescription medications work for you.
- If you don’t want to begin using opioids or strong medication you can start off with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as Advil and Aleve.
- If you are overweight, try to lose a few pounds.
3. Kidney stones
The good news is that the back pain associated with kidney stones is only temporary and is one of the symptoms that will be eliminated as soon as the stone passes. The bad news is that the pain, especially for men, can be severe. The stones themselves are made up of mineral deposits that harden and are unable to pass through the ureter. There are a number of conditions that are responsible for the creation of these stones, most of them dietary. Consuming too much coffee, sugar, salt and a high level of alkaline in the urine.
- For smaller stones, the treatment is as simple as consuming large quantities of water so the stone can be swept away and follow the urinary tract so it flows out of your system.
- Larger stones may require hospitalization and/or outpatient procedures known as lithotripsy where the stone is broken up so it can pass more easily.
- A heating pad may help to reduce discomfort but the main focus is getting the stones to pass so the pain will cease completely.
Usually only found on one side of the back at a time, a bout of sciatica is temporary but it is very painful. It is the result of the lower spine and lumbar becoming irritated at the roots. It can be the result of muscle spasms, spinal stenosis, pregnancy, or discs that are degenerating
- There is back surgery available to deal with sciatica but it should only be considered as a last resort; other treatments may help to alleviate the symptoms with time.
- Acupuncture has been known to help resolve issues with the sciatic nerve.
- Ask your physician about the injections that are available and if you are considered a good candidate for them.
- Physical therapy may be ordered and with the correct movements, this condition can be turned around fairly quickly.
- The TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) unit may help with the lower back pain problems.
5. Bulging or ruptured discs
If you are experiencing lower back pain you should see your physician immediately so he or she can order a magnetic resonance imaging study, or MRI, to see if you are suffering from a herniated, ruptured, or bulging disc.
- Make sure you relax your back and refrain from any heavy lifting or unnecessary movements for a while. Give your back a chance to heal.
- There are stretching exercising you can do to help relieve the pressure on the disc. Lie on your back and grab both of your knees and hold them to your chest.
- If you are carrying any extra weight on your body start a weight reduction plan.
- If you want to keep your back in good shape you may want to invest in a massage chair.
While the chances are good that if you haven’t already, you will probably experience back pain some time in your life. Make sure you seek out your physician right away so that you can treat your condition correctly right from the start. The sooner you know what is causing the pain the sooner you will be able to alleviate the discomfort. Make sure you supplement any treatment your doctor prescribes with additional options listed here such as the application of heat and cold as well as over-the-counter medications.
This article is written by Darlene. She has had many years in chronic pain management. You might want to know more about her!