What Is Back Pain?
Back pain can be described as a pain, ache, sting, throbbing, soreness or twinge that occurs in the back. This pain can be constant, sudden, intermittent or radiating. It can be dull, sharp, piercing or burning. It may spread out into the arms, hands, buttocks, legs, feet and may have accompanying symptoms like numbness, weakness, and tingling.
Doctors and other practicing medical specialists have admitted that indeed, no other complaint sends the human race to their offices like back pain. Research has shown that out of ten people; nine will suffer back pain at one point in life. In the United States alone, this kind of pain causes 40% of missed days at work. Furthermore, back pain is the leading cause of disability in the world.
Endless years of research have shown that back pain typically originates from the spine and its organs. Some of these organs include the muscles, bones, nerves and joints. While the condition will mostly affect adults aged 35-55, it can affect any age group including children.
Back pain differs from individual to individual, which means that everyone’s back pain occurs differently. Back pain can be classified as follows:
Lower back pain:
Also known as lumbago, this kind of pain is extremely common and affects the muscles and the bones of the back. This region is known as the lumbar spine.
Upper/mid back pain:
This kind of pain can occur anywhere in the upper and middle back. This region is also known as the thoracic spine.
Lower Back Pain (Lumbago)
As we have already seen, lumbago is the general term used to describe pain or discomfort in the lower back or the lumbar region. This kind of pain can either be mild or severe and can be acute or severe. The pain becomes chronic when it has lasted for more than three months.
Lumbago has been known to affect any age group but is common in young adults whose daily activities revolve around hard physical activities and the elderly.
The Symptoms of Lower Back Pain (Lumbago)
If you experience any of the following symptoms, there is a high chance that you have lumbago:
• Pain that spreads across your lower back and will at times travel to the buttocks, the groin or the back of the thigh. This pain gets worse with movement.
• A stiff neck which occurs when the muscles that surround the spine go into spasm.
• Pain or discomfort when leaning forward or bending. This also happens when the same muscles that surround the spine go into spasm.
• Severe pain and spasm that prompt you to lean towards one side.
• A tingling sensation or numbness in the back, buttock or along one or both legs.
The Causes of Lower Back Pain
Identifying the causes of lumbago can be a tough affair and chiropractic remains the only means to detect accurately where the problem lies. Lower back pain can be as a result of a slipped disc or scoliosis where the natural curvature or curve of the spine becomes deformed.
Osteoporosis is also a common cause of lumbago or rarely, infections or tumors in the spinal region. Generally, without chiropractic, it is only possible to identify the exact cause of lumbago in about 30% of all cases. The rest are assumed to be as a result of muscle strain and treated as such.
If you have been experiencing the following signs, it is time to contact urgently you doctor or better still, a chiropractor:
• If you suddenly can’t control bladder and bowel movement.
• If you experience a tingling or numbness in the lower back, buttocks or legs.
• If you experience a dull ache or pain in the lower back accompanied by a lack of strength in one or both legs.
How Lower Back Pain Is Diagnosed
As we have already seen, it is not possible to accurately identify the causes of lower back pain without the participation of a certified chiropractor. However, a diagnosis can easily be made based on the symptoms. Also, x-rays, blood tests, and scans can be performed though rarely, and only when the specialists suspects an underlying cause of your back pain.
Treatment of Lower Back Pain
The majority of back pain sufferers will report improvement in a matter of days after treatment is started. However, if the underlying cause is not addressed, the results can often be short lived when the patient ends their treatment.
Treatment of lower back pain usually involves the following:
Painkillers and anti-inflammatory tablets- these are given to take away the pain and discomfort. However, if you suffer from various conditions such as heart disease, liver disease, asthma, high blood pressure, stomach ulcers and other digestive disorders, your doctor will probably advise you against taking these medications. Other medication such as Diazepam can be addictive. The best alternative here remains chiropractic care because the practice offers effective treatment options without medication or surgery.
• Exercise and therapy – proper exercises are very effective at treating lumbago. A chiropractor will identify the best exercises to strengthen your back, stomach muscles and to improve your posture.
• Rest – a two or three-day bed rest usually works wonders in relieving back pain. Your doctor or chiropractor will probably recommend specialized pillows and other devices when necessary, such as ENTAP’s Back Support Cushions or Lumbar Rolls which are widely prescribed by chiropractors throughout South Africa.
• Hot and cold treatments – heat and cold treatments are also effective in relieving back pain. A chiropractor will probably try both to find out which works better for you.
Other possible treatments include the following:
• Nutritional advice
• Deep tissue massage
• Spinal manipulation
• Trigger point therapy
• Stress release technologies
• Back support braces
• Back Support Cushions to improve your posture throughout the day