Back pain is a common ailment among millions of adults. In fact most adults will have experienced some form of back pain by the time they reach the age of 40. Science indicates that 9 out of 10 adults are sporadically affected by mild to acute back pain. While some will suffer from irregular bouts of mild back pain, many will suffer chronic and debilitating back pain that require intense pain treatments.
Perhaps the most common form of back pain is caused by muscle strain or stress but in many other instances it is due to a herniated disc, pulled ligaments, lumbar pressure or nerve compression. The major problems with back pain is that a lack of formal treatment can cause the muscles to weaken further, which only leads to more intense back pain.
Often when there is pain located in one area of the body, we subconsciously shift our body weight to compensate for the weak muscle by relying more heavily on the stronger muscles. This can then cause back pain to shift to the healthy area of the back, exacerbating the previous pain.
Back Pain Causes
The most common form of back pain is lower back pain and it can be caused by many different things. Often lower back pain is due to compression of a nerve, such as the sciatic nerve. This nerve compression occurs due to spinal deformities, deterioration of joints, a slipped disc or vertebral fractures. These factors often lead to persistent and excruciating pain.
There are other, less innocuous causes for back pain that are mostly related to lifestyle factors. If you spend a great deal of time lifting heavy objects, lifting incorrectly can cause muscles strains and sprains that are quite painful. Likewise, improper posture can lead to back pain as well as neck pain.
The good news is that preventative measures can be taken to combat lifestyle-related back pain. If the pain persists however, you should see a back specialist right away.
Treating Back Pain
There are as many ways to treat back pain as there are causes for back pain. In fact, many of the available back pain treatments can be performed at home before seeking professional assistance. Resting is a highly effective method of treating back pain because it allows the muscles to return to the correct position and relieves the stress and pressure on the joints. Therapeutic pillows are very helpful when placed under the knees while lying down. If you need to use this treatment for more than several consecutive days that indicates you need more help than a back pillow can offer.
While the back does require regular rest for a speedy recovery, too much rest can be as detrimental to your back health as not enough. Extended periods of rest can weaken muscles, which is why you should intersperse these periods of rest with periods of mild physical activity.
Before you make the trip to your doctor, you may want to rely on heat therapy and over the counter pain medication. A heating pad or warm compress for no more than a half hour will relax the tension of the muscles and help reduce pain. Pain medication that is most effective for treating back pain will have anti-inflammatory as well as pain relief properties. Over the counter pain medication that can do both include ibuprofen, aspirin and naproxen.
Stretching and exercise have also proven very effective for treating back pain. All back pain sufferers can benefit from stretching the muscles to relax and soothe them. Regardless of your pain level you should be able to perform at few stretches for relief. Mild exercise can also work to strengthen the back muscles, which will balance them out and reduce the risk of muscle imbalances.
Before you begin any exercise regimen as treatment for back pain, consult with a physical therapist.
The best form of back pain treatment is prevention through regular stretching and exercise programs, ergonomic office equipment and proper posture. Lifting with the knees rather than the back can prevent strain, pulling and stress on back muscles. Finally learning how to manage life stress can reduce your risk of back pain. Consult your physician for effective ways to manage stress.
Written By: Updated: July 12,2011