The more you know about any problem, the better equipped you are to handle it, and that is true of all medical problems including back pain. When you understand the intricacies of back pain the more informed you will be about effective and long lasting treatments. Because back pain can range from mild to severe and inhibit your ability to live a full and active life, it is important to understand what causes back pain, symptoms and available treatments.
Back Pain Causes
There are several causes for back pain, but one of the most common is a herniated disc. This occurs when the discs located between the spinal vertebra begin to leak and dry out, causing friction that is quite painful. This occurs through overuse and aging, but it can be treated.
Another common cause of back pain is poor posture, which many people are guilty of due to extended periods of time spent sitting at a desk, on a sofa or behind the wheel of a car. Chairs that don’t provide proper back support and ergonomic unfriendly office setups can cause back pain and muscle strain.
The many causes of back pain can include pregnancy, obesity, degenerative disc disease and sciatica just to name a few. By understanding what causes these back problems and identifying symptoms and what causes the onset of certain symptoms, you can help your physician create an effective back pain treatment program.
Most often there are underlying causes for back pain. While the patient may believe that the back aches because they stood up too fast, the truth is that it is more likely due to a muscle imbalance that reached its critical point when they bent to pick up an object. The key to successful treatment is treating the underlying cause rather than the symptoms.
Recognizing Symptoms of Back Pain
There are quite a few back pain symptoms that patients need to be aware of to help diagnose the source of the back pain. Symptoms run the gamut from mild discomfort to immobility in some cases, but there are far more symptoms you need to identify and note.
There will always be pain, but your ability to describe the pain effectively can greatly help during the diagnostic process. The type of pain you feel can be sharp, dull, radiating, tingling or burning. In addition to your ability to quantify your pain, you should be able to discuss—in detail—where the pain originates and whether or not it spreads. Some back problems, such as sciatica, often include a radiating pain down one or both legs whereas mid and upper back problems can cause pain in the neck.
Listening to your body and recognizing and being able to explain your pain will make the diagnostic process easier and more successful.
Once you and your physician have identified symptoms of back pain, coming up with an effective treatment plan will be easier.
One back pain treatment plan that nearly all physicians agree is effective is exercise. Regular physical activity can keep muscles flexible and relaxed, but more importantly they can strengthen the muscles to prevent muscle imbalances. Stronger muscles are less likely to succumb to weakness, but too much exercise can have the opposite effect and lead to a quickening of muscle deterioration.
A regular exercise routine that includes a warm up and cool down stretching period can prevent and relieve back pain.
There are many natural and chemical back pain treatments that can be utilized to help relieve the pain and swelling common among many types of back pain. Pain relievers come in the form of pills, herbs and topical ointments, available over the counter or with a prescription. There are also anti-inflammatory pills and herbs that can reduce swelling. When you understand your back pain, you can find the right treatment for you.
Surgery can be an effective treatment for back pain, but only in limited instances. Very few back problems can be solved by surgery, and those that can be, only rely on surgery as a last resort when physical therapy, chiropractic medicine or Eastern medicine techniques have failed.
There are plenty of other tools that provide pain relief that can be used in conjunction with other treatments. There are back pillows, massage therapy and ergonomic office equipment that help with posture, spinal curvature, compressed nerves and sprained muscles.
When you have a greater understanding of the causes and symptoms of back pain you can be more proactive in terms of preventing or relieving pain. If you have been suffering from back pain for more than a week, take note of your pain so you can inform your physician.
Written By: Updated: July 12,2011