About Chronic Back Pain
Back pain affects 85% of Americans by the time they reach age 50. More than 26 million Americans experience chronic back pain between the ages of 20 and 64. Back pain is the leading cause of disability for Americans under 45 years of age.
The back is a delicate structure composed of bones, ligaments, muscles, nerves and tendons. There are thirty-one pairs of nerve roots that emerge from the spinal cord. With so many working parts, it is no wonder that 13 million Americans visit a physician each year for chronic back pain. 2.4 million Americans are chronically disabled while another 2.4 million are temporarily disabled every year.
Causes - There are five general causes for chronic back pain:
* Movement problems - The spine can be influenced by poor mechanics that aggravate the spine's movable parts. The most common mechanical cause of back pain is intervertebral disc degeneration, which causes the loss of the cushioning around the vertebrae.
* Injuries - Sprains or tears in the ligaments that support the spine can easily occur from lifting or twisting. As we often twist or lift at work, we must always be aware of a careless or sudden exertion.
* Conditions and diseases - Many conditions can contribute to back pain. Arthritis, herniated disks, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are among some of the leading conditions that contribute to chronic back pain.
* Infections and tumours - Infections and tumours that lodge in the vertebrae can cause a variety of disc problems.
* Emotional stress - One of the leading causes of chronic back pain is the emotional stress we often feel at work. If muscles become tense, we are prone to back pain.
Symptoms - Symptoms of chronic back problems are easily noticeable. Chronic back pain can be signalled by numbness, tingling sensations, aches, tightness and stiffness, burning and throbbing.
Diagnosis - A number of factors can contribute to back pain. A complete physical examination may be followed by a neurological exam. The following are standard diagnostic methods.
* Magnetic Resonance Imaging - MRI's provide clear images of disc deterioration, spinal tumours and abnormalities in the nerves and ligaments.
* X-rays - X-rays display the alignment of the spine and may uncover degenerative joint diseases.
* Computerized Tomography - Often enhanced by the injection of a contrast dye, CT scans show abnormalities in the bones and soft tissue.
* Myelography - Contrast dye is used to outline the spinal cord and nerve roots and highlight abnormal disc conditions.
* Electromyogram - Often called an EMG, this method uses of tiny electrodes inserted into the muscle tissue to detect abnormal electrical signals.
* Spinal Tap - A sample of cerebrospinal fluid is drawn and analysed.
* Radioactive Bone Scan - The radioactive bone scan employs a radioactive tracer and gamma camera picture to locate problems in the vertebrae.
Treatment - When back pain is treated quickly, the temporary discomfort and lack of mobility will eventually subside. Ice should be applied to the strained area for the first 48 hours. This reduces the swelling and slows any internal bleeding. If the discomfort sharpens and persists there are several options depending upon the severity of the injury.
* Physical therapy and exercise
* Prescription medications
* Disc removal
* Fusion surgery
* Intradiscal electrothermal therapy
* Implanted pumps
Prevention - Preventive maintenance is still the most effective deterrent to chronic back pain. Proper body mechanics, regular exercise, improved posture, weight maintenance, diet and halting smoking are all worthwhile pursuits that can help prevent the disabling symptoms of chronic back pain.
Recently, many holistic approaches have proven to be effective in combating chronic back pain. Meditation, yoga and a host of other exercise programs and stress relief therapies contribute positively to the individual's overall well being. These programs are most effective when used on a regular basis.
About the author: At FeelGoodNow.com we connect you with evidence-based information from licensed and accredited practitioners dedicated to treating the whole person - mind, body, and spirit. Whether you're looking for natural healing or information on traditional, integrative, or complementary and alternative medicine, visit FeelGoodNow.com and you'll find valuable resources for your health and wellness.