We've Got Your Back: What You Need to Know About Back Pain

Back pain affects millions of individuals every day and can lead to decreased quality of life interfering with your daily activities of work and social life. Low back pain is one of the leading causes of disability around the world. In the United States, the cost of treating low back pain annually is over $240 billion! The more you know about back pain: spinal anatomy, symptoms, what causes the pain, ways to prevent it, and treatment options the healthier you can be!

Anatomy

Your spine is composed of small bones, called vertebrae that are aligned on top of one another. Surrounding the vertebrae are your muscles, ligaments, nerves, and intervertebral discs. All of these components help support your spine and help you move. There are 5 major segments of your spine (from top down): cervical, thoracic, lumbar, sacral, and coccygeal. Due to the lumbar spine holding all of the upper body weight, the low back is commonly injured.

Symptoms

Everyone experiences back pain differently. Some people may have a sudden onset of pain (acute) while others may have back pain that has lasted for months or even years (chronic). Depending on what part of your back has been affected impacts the types of symptoms you will experience. Symptoms can include: muscle aches or spasms, shooting/stabbing pain, pain that extends down your leg, and limited back motion that interferes with daily life (walking, standing, sitting, bending, etc). Back pain can also refer to other parts of your body such as your groin, buttock, and upper thigh.

Causes

Back pain can be caused by numerous factors. Common reasons for back pain include: muscle or ligament strain, bulging disc, degenerative changes (arthritis), skeletal abnormalities (such as scoliosis), and osteoporosis. A common misconception about back pain is that if X-rays show degenerative changes that is why you have back pain. However, there have been numerous studies showing degenerative changes in adults who do not have back pain. Accidents and injuries can be causes of back pain also: car accidents, falls, and fractures.

Prevention

Luckily, there are many ways to help protect your back and decrease your chances of back pain. Proper posture while sitting and standing, using proper lifting techniques (use your legs, not your back), staying at a healthy weight, participating in physical activity, smoking cessation, and proper footwear are among the top preventative plans. Other ways to reduce back pain is getting adequate rest- sleeping is when your body repairs itself, stretching, drinking adequate water, and being aware of your body. Don't ignore back problems as they can become worse if left untreated.

Treatment

There are several treatment options for back pain ranging from medication to holistic healing approaches. Medications may include over the counter pain medication, muscle relaxants, and injections. Other treatment options include acupuncture, chiropractic care, and surgery. While medication can help with the healing process, it is not getting to the root of the problem. Physical therapy uses a variety of treatment options to help individuals with back pain. Hot packs, ultrasound, electrical stimulation, and manual therapy all help with the healing while the exercises we teach you can improve your flexibility, strength, and core stability. These techniques can help ease your back pain and prevent the pain from returning!

If you are suffering from back pain, join us for our Free Helping You Help Yourself Seminar on Low Back Pain on Wednesday, September 28 at 7:00 PM for more information and tips from staff and guest speaker, Dr. Erin Griffeth of MedExpress.

--- Lauren Cerier, DPT of TherapyWorks www.therapyworkskansas.com

Tagged: low back pain, physical therapy, free seminar, back pain

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