Low Back Pain, Causes and Treatments
Low back pain is a common healthcare and social problem associated with disability and absence from work. One 2005 medical study of chronic spinal pain stated that the lifetime prevalence of spinal pain has been reported as 54% to 80%, with as many as 60% of patients continuing to have chronic pain five years or longer after the initial episode. The long-term and disabling conditions of chronic and recurrent low-back problems are of major concern, from both costs and morbidity aspects.
Chiropractic care has been shown to compare favourably to medical care with respect to long-term pain and disability outcomes in many cases, but the chiropractor should carefully consider the optimum treatment plan for each patient on an individual basis. For most cases of chronic low-back pain, I recommend a three-step program of spinal adjustments, postural stabilization, and rehabilitative exercise. Combining these three elements can make the difference between a successful care program and a lingering, recurring low back condition.
Most people who have had low back pain have been told to do knee to chest exercises first thing in the morning. Guess what? Knee to chest exercises in the morning are bad for your back. I attended this conference with a room full of physiotherapists and chiropractors, and they were all surprised to hear this, but once Dr. McGill explained himself, they all seemed to be in agreement. When you bring your knees to your chest, your back rounds slightly. In this rounded (or flexed) position, your discs change shape slightly in response to the position of the vertebrae. While you sleep, your back hydrates so that by the time you wake up your discs are filled with liquid. Think about your discs as water balloons.
The history is very important, i.e., when did the pain first appear? Is it something which occurs frequently, or is this the first time? What is the nature of the pain: Sharp, dull, intermittent or constant? Does it 'radiate' somewhere or does it remain in one area? What were the activities prior to the pain? Maybe you were moving railroad ties around your garden, or continuously leaning back to paint a ceiling. Maybe you've been sleeping on a roll-away bed while guests are visiting and it has a six inch mattress with a metal bar halfway across it. Do you have fever or blood in your urine (kidney stone)? By this process, your doctor tries to 'sift out' the exact nature and specific history of your back pain.
Three categories of lower back pain
Your lower back pain will fall into one of three categories, which your doctor bases on your description of the pain.
1. Axial lower back pain - mechanical or simple back pain
2. Radicular lower back pain - sciatica
3. Lower back pain with referred pain
The second step is to look at the back. Starting with the skin, is there an isolated rash that might be shingles? Is there an infected cyst or an area of skin infection, such as one surrounding a tick bite? Now look at the posture. Is the back too straight, as from muscle spasm? Does it curve to the left or right (scoliosis), and is this a permanent finding or is it due to muscle spasm? Does the back curve too far toward the front (lordosis), maybe due to a prominent 'pot belly?' As part of this process your doctor might make other observations. Do walking and standing make the pain worse, and is it primarily movement of one leg that seems to cause the problem? When one sits in a chair, does he slouch with poor posture, or sit too straight from muscle spasm?
Degenerative disc problems are similar to rupture problems, but without a rupture occurring. Instead, the discs of the spinal system have been eroded, usually by time. This condition is not particularly well understood, as all individuals experience the degeneration of their discs in their lives. Some feel chronic pain, while others do not. Therapies and/or surgery are again the most effective ways to treat this type of pain, so far.
Back pain is definitely not an easy problem to deal with and to some it can seem like an impossible task to get rid of it. In this article I'll be going through some of the things you can do to help your back pain without having to take medication that may potentially cause side effects. I've also avoided including surgery in this list as that can be even more daunting than taking pills for most people.
The easiest way to start trying to get rid of pain is to avoid doing things that could harm your back furniture. For example, if you spend all day lifting heavy objects then it's vital you use the correct method. I'm sure you've all seen how to lift in training videos but haven't taken much notice - don't let your back pain get worse than it has too because you're lifting wrong.
Home treatments for back pain are fairly simple and straight forward. Apply heat if there is only pain, in twenty minute intervals. If there is also swelling, interchange heat and ice every twenty minutes. Lie on your back, on a hard surface, with your knees and hips slightly elevated to take all strain off of the back muscles. After two or three days, make sure that you walk for a few minutes every couple of hours. You can also take over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications as well.
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