Too many people–adults and adolescents–suffer long term back pain with seemingly no end in sight. Many back pain sufferers endure years of ongoing pain treatments that for one reason or another, simply do not work. This can leave patients feeling hopeless and unwilling to continue prolonged treatments, which can only serve to worsen back pain.
If you have endured several unsuccessful treatments for your chronic or acute back pain, you should be aware of one of the most common reasons you can’t find back pain relief: mixed pain syndrome. When you understand this problem your chances of finding an effective solution to your back pain problems will greatly increase.
What Is Mixed Pain Syndrome?
The best way to understand mixed pain syndrome is to understand that there may not be just one cause for your current back pain. Just as there are many causes to one particular form of back pain, such as sciatica or a herniated disc, there can also be multiple problems that have yet to be diagnosed.
While you may have a compressed sciatic nerve, that compression may not be the only reason you are experiencing back pain. In fact it may not even be the source for your pain, despite the fact that sciatica can be quite painful for many. This is why an accurate diagnosis is so important to the treatment process; so you can treat all primary and underlying causes for pain.
Causes Of Back Pain
There are two main causes for your pain: soft tissue pain and a compression of the nerves. Understanding the causes of back pain can help you recognize and identify symptoms of multiple back problems.
Soft tissue pain can be caused by many different factors, including scar tissue, inflammation and even micro tears in muscles. In many instances a lack of oxygen-rich blood circulation throughout the cells can lead to this type of damage, particularly when you suffer from one back problem that is causing poor blood flow. Nerve compression, on the other hand, is caused by conditions that place pressure directly on the nerve such as spinal stenosis, a herniated disc or sciatica. This can be caused by trauma, injury or degeneration over time.
Knowing this, consider an issue such as a herniated disc placing pressure on a nerve root in the spine with multiple trigger points, in addition to localized inflammation: while all you may feel is pain and discomfort, it is important to understand that these symptoms are caused by multiple problems, rather than just a herniated disc.
Treating mixed pain syndrome means treating all of the symptoms as well as underlying causes, which means a mixed treatment plan. If you simply treat one problem you will still have other symptoms to contend with, which can cause a muscle imbalance and greater pain. Your physician and physical therapist will likely recommend that you experiment with different treatments to find the most effective combination.
A multi-step approach will prove most effective in treating all of your back problems, but it is important that you do not rely solely on chemical treatments as they may be habit forming.
Try these treatments instead of pills to reduce pain and inflammation:
- Reduce inflammation with a natural anti-inflammatory
- Decompress the spine with inversion therapy
- Alleviate pain with a rub on pain relief cream
- Improve circulation and release toxins with far infrared heat
Once you have reduced the onset of painful muscle spasms and some mobility has returned, you can start listening to your body and paying attention for underlying causes of pain for prevention. Take note of when the pain is the worst, what types of activities precede the pain and the type of pain you experience. Some things to look out for include;
- Relax tension and knots in muscles to eliminate trigger points
- Change your mental attitude towards pain
- Identify and eliminate muscle imbalances
- Eliminate inflammation-inducing foods such as refined wheat and sugar, dairy products and fried foods from your diet.
One of the most important things to remember when treating mixed pain syndrome is that no specific combination of treatments is guaranteed to work for everyone–even those suffering from the same combination of back problems. Try different treatments together such as massage therapy and spinal decompression until you find what best treats all of your symptoms.
Written By: Updated: November 3,2009