Common Causes Of Back Pain
Back pain is usually felt at the back. Back pain, also called lower extremity pain, can be of various degrees of severity and can occur for a variety of reasons, including lifting of heavy objects, sports injuries, poor postural habits or as a result of a particular disease or disorder. Back pain can affect people of all ages, but is most common among the elderly and young adults. Back pain can be divided into upper back pain (frontal), middle back pain or lower back pain depending on the section affected. The symptoms may include pain in the shoulders, arms, buttocks, hips or groin, numbness, tingling or difficulty in moving the joint or pain that radiates down the back of the leg. These symptoms are indicative of problems that need to be diagnosed and treated by a medical practitioner.
The majority of back pain cases can be treated with non-pharmacological means, although a small proportion of patients will require pharmacological treatment. Carefully identifying the cause is vital in order to successfully treat it. The first step is to see your GP who will advise on the best course of action. In most cases, a visit to the local pharmacist or local GPs will not be sufficient to provide an accurate diagnosis, and in the absence of a GP or pharmacist to conduct a thorough examination, a referral to a medically trained professional who is experienced in back pain will be most appropriate. This could be a physio, chiropractor, osteopath, physical therapist, massage practitioner or occupational therapist.
One of the main types of back pain, sub-acute, usually lasting a few weeks, is normally described as a’sneak attack’. The majority of sufferers describe the pain as sporadic and sharp, with little or no pain. Sub-acute back pain typically responds well to conservative treatments which are designed to reduce the inflammation, manage the pain and strengthen the affected muscles. Common treatments include taking hot baths or showers, applying hot packs and ice packs, resting in bed and taking anti-inflammatory medication such as aspirin. As the disorder is often associated with weakness and soreness, alternative therapies such as acupuncture, acupressure and massage may also be helpful.
Acute and chronic back pain are typically classed as back pain caused by one of four common causes. These are disc degeneration, slipped disc, herniated disc or herniated spinal bones. Impingement of the nerve by ligament is one of the most common causes of back pain. Injury to the spine, usually involving the neck, shoulders or hips is one of the most common causes. Lower back pain typically results from poor posture, whilst lower limb pain, particularly in the legs, is typically indicative of diabetes, a condition that requires medical treatment.
Imaging techniques are used in assessing back pain. Typically, ultrasound imaging is used to investigate spinal fractures. This technique uses sound waves to create images of the spine using minimal damage to the tissue and soft tissues around the spine. An example of this is the lumbar interbody imaging or ILI, which identifies abnormalities on X-ray which are not visible with the naked eye. Other imaging techniques typically used by radiologists are pelvic examination, bone scan, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and tomography (T MRI).
Treatment for back pain typically involves undertaking a form of conservative treatment where the physical condition of the patient is addressed and conservative methods are adopted to control or prevent further complications from occurring. Common symptoms of a degenerative disc disease include swelling and pain within the lumbar region and pelvic region. Radiologists can perform diagnostic imaging tests such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and CT Scanning to detect abnormalities in the spine and to assess the health of the spinal cord and nearby structures. If a herniated disc is detected, it is typically removed via a minor invasive procedure in which the surrounding tissue is protected. Once the pain has subsided, the patient can return to daily activities.
When conservative treatments fail to alleviate back pain, severe complications such as herniated discs and ruptured muscles may develop. In the case of a herniated disc, for instance, the inflammation causes pressure on surrounding nerves and when this occurs the affected nerves are deprived of oxygen and nutrients. This causes the pain to continue and can result in a physical deformity requiring immediate surgery to correct the spinal problem. A ruptured muscle is another example of how back pain can result in long term disability or even paralysis. When a torn muscle is not addressed and cared for early enough, it can lead to serious complications such as gangrene and necrosis of the surrounding tissue.
When a patient experiences a sudden onset of back pain, the first course of action is typically a visit to a chiropractor. Chiropractors are typically well trained in treating a wide range of musculoskeletal complaints and have extensive experience treating patients with a variety of conditions, from pinched sciatic nerve symptoms to traumatic injuries from falls. It is important, however, that patients realize that it is not unusual for chiropractic doctors to prescribe their own proprietary sets of exercise and stretching techniques in cases where traditional treatment may prove to be ineffective. If conservative treatments do not provide relief within 30 days, medical intervention may be necessary.