What is Back Pain?
Everyone has an untold story about back pain. The extent of back pain may vary from a mild stiffness to excruciating pains. Most of our day-to-day activities take a toll on our spinal health without us being aware of it.
Most of the times, it becomes difficult to grab the underlying cause of back pain or the root of it. Lower back pain may be there for a day or two or could linger on for days together. They can be overwhelming and can cripple our daily routine. The reasons behind back pain could be sore muscles, daily wear, and tear, ligament issues, herniated discs or some back injury.
Types of Back Pain
The 24 vertebrae stacked together have a massive network of nerves going through them. A minor defect in the anatomy of these vertebrae can lead to different symptoms related to back pain. Most common types of back pain are:
Lower Back Pain
Lower backache is highly prevalent in the age group of 25-80 where around 54% of the Americans in this age group are suffering from lower back pain. While 90% of these people suffer from back pain due to long sitting work hours, most of them are not even able to identify the cause. Pain that starts below the rib cage and in the lumbar area and in many cases, it spreads down towards the hips and at time legs too.
Strenuous physical activities, degeneration of bones or improper posture are the prime reasons behind the back pain. The symptoms may vary from mild pain to the feeling of numbness or severe pain that may ebb or rise with continuous movements.
If the pain persists for more than 1-2 weeks, you must visit a chiropractor for treatment.
Upper Back Pain
While lower back is more prone to pains, the upper back vertebrae can also be a source of pain. The symptoms may start with mild aches, stiffness or sharp pains. Upper back pain is very common and caused by long-term postural issues or injuries.
The upper part of the spine is highly active with postural issues even though it doesn’t bear the load like a lumbar spine would. The neck may feel stiff and it is really difficult to diagnose upper back pain. There are a few reported cases, but it is not rare.
Accident traumas or server posture problems could lead to persistent upper back pains that hinder your day to day activities.
How can Back Pain Affect Lives Without Knowing?
Even the mildest back pains run havoc with your daily routine. Let us understand how ignoring the early symptoms of the back pain could impact the way you live your life:
Lower and upper back pain can be a roadblock in your career. You may not be able to put in the hours because of sitting or travelling challenges. On and off you may have to ask for leaves or work from home that could negatively impact your growth in the organization.
This may put you through a financial churn as you may risk losing your job because of irregularities or missing the commitments as your back pains hold you back. SG Pain Solutions offers services that help you restore the healthy back.
Social Circle and Hobbies Suffer
Friendships take time to grow. You spend time with an acquaintance on regular basis go out for daily activities together that may be a job or a late evening game. If your back is not keeping well, eventually you may drop out of the social circle as you will no longer be enjoying any activity with them. You will be always on pills or support belts that may make partying and socializing a challenge for you. It would happen eventually is that you will drop out of the social circle? It would be difficult for you to even make it to a coffee date.
Family Responsibilities Suffer
Whether you are a homemaker or a father who helps wife take care of kids, you back will hamper you to even take care of the routine activities. It may not allow you to cook, do laundry or pick up your crying toddler. If you have help around you to take care of that, you are blessed but while you are resting your back, you actually end up missing on the lovely time with your family.
Mental Health Suffers
The worst impact that back pains can have is your mental health. While you feel healthy otherwise but you back restrain you from the routine activities, it might churn your mental health. You may feel depressed as staying inside or on the bed will impact the hormonal balance in your body that could even lead to depression.
Entire Health Goes For a Toss
Lower back pain retrains your movement capability. As it increases further, you may even be bedridden leading to weight gain and the plethora of issues that accompany weight gain. It could expose you to the risks of developing heart ailments, diabetes, and more chronic ailments.
You may be enjoying a very active life before the back pain caught you and may end up being nursed. Most of the patients who are nursed for too long either develop mood swings or become withdrawn that may impact the entire family as well as the patient himself.
Types of Back Pain
You should visit a professional like SG Pain Solutions if you are feeling any of these pains:
Have you ever got up in the morning to feel a stiff back? Activities like gardening or cleaning sometimes lead to an unwanted stress on your back that goes away after resting your back for some hours.
An early stage of back pain that could linger around for long if not taken care of! Although the pain is not excruciating, you could feel it more often and suddenly.
A dull pain that just stays. It could lead to waking up to a stiff back every morning and shifting your posture again and again to find the perfect support position for the back.
Sharp and Shooting
This is the stage that proclaims that the back pain needs professional medical attention from chiropractors. You may be in the middle of a meeting and suddenly the pain starts. It could be a symptom of the nerves getting compressed that could lead to potential harm in the future.
Hot and burning
It does not feel like an ache nor is it shooting. A kind of burning sensation that is quite painful and indicates the nerve compression is severe.
Intense and Stabbing
A pain that feels like a knife stab. It keeps on moving and sometimes that patients are not able to comprehend that it is a back pain. Injuries or server wear and tear cause this kind of pain.
Underlying reasons that address different types of pains:
Chronic Lower Back Pain
Decreased mobility of the lower back due to chronic pains may be due to arthritis, herniated disk, injury or heavy wear and tear. As the age increases the risk of chronic pain are more. Stress, being overweight, pregnancy, a little exercise and heavy lifting tasks are found to be the major cause of back pain.
Slipped Disc is a very common lower back problem spread across a wide age range. If you feel an acute backache, leg pain or slip disc could be the reason behind it. It may start with some back injury and then keep on getting worse or maybe because of the incorrect posture for prolonged hours.
Induced by the disc slip, it directly puts pressure on the nerves and the pain may range from a mild pain to severe pains that may even go down the legs. The pains are vague in both locations and intensity. Orthopaedic evaluation can assess the cause. Sometimes an X-Ray, MRI or CT-scan can help detect the root cause of the pain.
Scoliosis is the condition where the spine’s natural curvature is impacted. The issues could be due to congenital spine deformities, deformities to accidents, degenerative deformities or osteoporosis. The Scoliosis causes are mostly unknown and may develop suddenly due to cerebral palsy, spinal muscular atrophy or tumours.
Types of Treatments and Diagnostic Procedures
Patients suffering from mild to aggressive types of lower back pain are suggested to go for a conservative treatment program called chiropractic. It is a program that uses non-surgical methods with the focus to reduce back pain and make the patient aware of the lower back care and daily routine. Chiropractors use their knowledge of soft tissue, joints, and neuromuscular system to diagnose the root cause of back pain.
Chiropractors are also neuromuscular experts and use manual manipulation techniques to restore the spinal health. The method is used to ensure that the structural integrity of the spine is restored. This improvement ensures the pressure on nerves is managed and the back pain reduces. Some of the popular and effective techniques used by Chiropractors are:
The practitioner starts by locating the pain point in the spinal region. This is followed by spine adjustments so that the pain and inflammations are reduced.
Using this technique, the herniated discs are fixed as they are the most popular reason behind chronic lower back pains.
A pressure application technique that realigns the bones in the spine releasing the tension and pressure to the nerves.
Soft Tissue Therapy
A therapy that includes the massage of soft tissue to strengthen muscles and ligaments. It reduces the inflammation with increased blood flow towards the pain areas.
Specialized in strengthening and rehabilitation of injuries. This may be useful to help restore postural functions and specific conditionings. They may also be able to help address ergonomic issues from your daily life that may be causing some of your back pain.
The professionals utilize massages, alleviation techniques, and further home care methods are used to relieve the pain and rehabilitate the patients back to normal health.
If the lower back develops some deformities it requires physical manipulation and muscle strengthening to support the back of the patient to readjust back to normal routine. A personal trainer must be made aware of your health situation and he will help you with the exact set of exercises that strengthen the back muscles and prevent any future injuries.
How Improving Lifestyle Will Improve Your Back Health?
The daily activities we engage in have a significant impact on our back health. Let us see the practices we need to follow to keep the back pain free:
Maintain a good posture
Whether you are a student, a player, a desk worker or have a heavy lifting job maintaining a good spine health is quite possible. All you need to do is take care of how you sit, stand and bend. Taking care of some aspects like reducing prolonged sitting, having a proper support for your back when you sit and bend properly can keep you at bay from chronic back pains.
Eating well ensures you do not put on weight that could burden your spine. But most importantly a vitamin D and calcium-rich food will ensure you do not run into conditions like osteoporosis that is a degenerative condition of bones and lead to spinal injuries and deformations.
Reduce your stress levels
Control your stress levels through regular meditation. Stress levels aggravate the sensation of pain in the case of back pain and make it difficult to carry out your routine tasks.
It is important in two ways. Firstly, regular exercising will keep your weight under control avoiding any unnecessary pressure on your spine. Secondly, regular exercises strengthen the back muscles thereby holding the spine in good shape despite any heavy lifting.
Some of the Exercises to Keep the Back’s Health Good
Palm tree pose (Tadasana)
Legs lying against the wall
Supine Hamstring Stretch
Photo by Matthew Henry
Cat and Cow Pose
Credits: Designed by Yanalya
Maintaining a good back health is not a difficult task. All we need to do is to ensure that we take care of the back in our routine. In case of a recurring back pain, we must not delay and visit a medical practitioner to get the root cause diagnosed timely to avoid severe damage of the back.
Dr. Jenny Li is the appointed chairman of Medical Committee for NABBA WFF Singapore.
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