Back pain can be a debilitating condition which causes people to miss out on many enjoyable activities. Back pain is extremely common and treatable. Chiropractor and owner of Chester Chiropractic Office, Dr. Donald Littlejohn describes the most common causes of back pain and offers suggestions for how to relieve it.
Lower Back Pain
Acute back pain that comes on suddenly, lasting no more than 6 weeks, can be caused by a variety of reasons including heavy lifting, a fall or other trauma. If back pain persists longer than 3 months, it is classified as chronic back pain.
Many times, an imaging scan or test cannot determine the cause of acute back pain. A chiropractor may offer better insight on how to treat this problem.
Acute lower back pain is one of the most common reasons for patients to see a doctor and is the leading cause of absence from work. This pain can significantly interfere with a patient’s normal life. For this reason, it is important to see a chiropractor or primary care doctor for treatment if symptoms last more than seven days.
Causes of lower back pain include herniated or ruptured disks, sciatica, compression fractures caused by osteoporosis, fractures in the spinal cord, spinal stenosis or a narrowing of the spinal canal, and tears or strains affecting the ligaments or muscles supporting the back. Arthritis is another major cause of chronic lower back pain.
Less frequently, this pain comes from other medical conditions affecting the lower back area, such as pregnancy, kidney stones, and infections of the spine. Patients should see a qualified doctor who can rule out significant internal problems which may be causing the pain.
Upper Back Pain
Upper back pain is less common than lower back pain, but it can be just as damaging to a patient’s quality of life, claims Dr. Donald Littlejohn. Frequently, upper back pain is caused by poor posture or muscle deconditioning. This means that getting more exercise, increasing flexibility and strengthening the back muscles may provide a preventive effect.
Upper back pain can also be caused by overuse or repetitive motions such as working at a computer or prolonged use of a cell phone. This pain can start with irritation, tightness, and muscle strains. If the patient does not care for these strains properly, they can develop into longer-lasting back pain.
Traumatic injuries are another major cause of upper back pain. Overstraining oneself during a workout, incorrect lifting, slips, and falls, and car accidents are major culprits. Sometimes pain begins right away after the injuring event, and sometimes it comes on later. A chiropractor will be able to diagnose this problem and recommend solutions.
Treatment of Back Pain
Chiropractors can diagnose and treat back pain. Chiropractors treat back pain using a variety of different methods that include gentle spinal manipulation, therapeutic exercise, modifications to activities of daily living and other physical modalities. Chiropractors may be able to prevent future back pain using these methods, while primary care doctors are mainly concerned with responding to currently existing symptoms. Chiropractors may sometimes send their patients to a primary care provider as well as specialists such as orthopedists, neurologists or neurosurgeons. The course of treatment for back pain can also include medication, physical therapy and even surgery.
Prevention of Back Pain
In order to prevent back pain, it is wise to carry oneself with proper posture. Slouching can cause a strain on the back and neck. Sleeping on a poor mattress is another way that many people find themselves with back pain. Firmer mattresses and supportive pillows are better for most people.
It is wise to start an exercise plan which will help to strengthen the muscles in the back and to support their healthy function. A balanced workout will keep different areas of the back from becoming strained by irregular activity. Core exercises such as sit-ups, back stretches, and weight training can be beneficial. Remaining flexible is also important to prevent back pain and stretching exercises or practicing yoga or Tai Chi can help to retain a person’s flexibility.
Treat Your Back Pain
Back pain should not be suffered in silence. Whether you choose to visit a chiropractor like Dr. Littlejohn or a primary care doctor, you will find help understanding and addressing your back pain issue. Without back pain, you will be able to live a happier and more fulfilling life.