Back Pain Relief Tips

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What are the symptoms of disc injury?

Disc Misalignment May Occur with Aging

Spinal discs have a three-fold function: holding the spine together, working as shock absorbers, and balancing the spine. The spine consists of 23 discs, 17 of which are responsible for controlling movement in the lumbar and cervical regions of the back. When these discs are damaged, the results can be grave, and include herniation, bulging, rupture, protrusion, or degeneration.

In terms of back pain, disc damage may not always indicate the amount of physical trauma. For example, a muscle spasm may induce endless pain whereas a herniated disc can be painless. Since discs are located in such a nerve-sensitive area, precise pain levels are rarely good indicators of damage.

To identify disc damage, it is necessary to perform radiographic tests to determine the type of injury. Following diagnosis, patients need to receive prompt and effective back pain information and treatment from a professional.

   
What may be a cause of unexplained back pain?

Back Strain Means Back Pain

In recent times, it seems back pain is simply a natural consequence of age. These pains often go unexplained, but at times an underlying cause is evident. Back pain, whether acute or chronic, is often a blanket effect of strain on the back. The human spine holds the body together with a series of linking bones and discs. As aging occurs, the spinal column may endure strains and tears in muscle tissue. This destabilizing process gradually weakens the spine, and the final result is back pain.

Back pain causes may vary, but usually occur as a result of physical exertion or bodily injury. Back strain can also be caused by overwhelming amounts of stress & anxiety. Symptoms of low back strain include:

  • Back pain and stiffness
  • Pain in buttocks and legs
  • Pain which intensifies upon exertion

To evaluate back pain caused by strain, doctors will need to perform MRIs, x-rays, and other tests. It is necessary that you consult with a doctor to receive proper treatment.

   
How does upper back pain develop?

Your Mom was Right--You Should Sit Up Straight!

When one thinks of back pain, initial thoughts tend to concern the lower back. But let's not forget that the mid and upper back are part of the spine, too, and back pain symptoms can be felt there as well.

The structural support of the upper part of the spine is constantly challenged by the pull of gravity and the weight of your head. Since gravity is pulling the body forward and down and the weight of the head is substantial, the muscles in the thoracic spine (the portion of your back below the neck and above the lower back) have to constantly work to keep your torso upright. If those muscles are weak or deconditioned, the resultant stress of even the most natural of forces can create chronic or acute upper back pain.

Posture is the key to preventing this type of back pain, so for all those parents who nag their kids to stand up straight, keep it up! People who sit a lot, work at a computer or desk, or otherwise spend the majority of their time doing tasks in front of their body are prone to developing rounded shoulders. Having this type of hunched posture creates an alignment problem in the upper back and shoulders and results in a constant strain on the postural muscles. This continual strain causes those muscles to become overworked, which weakens them, making them less tolerable to even normal stress and strain. A cycle is created, perpetuated by weakness and poor posture. The result is upper back pain.

Upper back pain relief is best achieved through a combination approach. The use of modalities such as ice or heat will help ease the pain and muscle tightness. Exercises aimed at stretching the neck, chest and shoulder muscles will make it easier to achieve correct posture, and strengthening exercises for the upper back and shoulders will give those muscles what they need to maintain that posture. A physical therapist or qualified trainer are great resources to help you develop a comprehensive program that will alleviate this problem.

   
What can cause back pain?

Lower Back Pain - a Very Common Ailment

Your spine is an intricate and fascinating piece of machinery. Imagine balancing a wavering stack of bricks on a moving platform, with a jelly donut sandwiched between each pair of bricks. Add to that picture a series of delicate tubes coming out of each donut that will be squeezed too tight if the bricks or donuts press on them too hard. This image is very similar to how the vertebrae, disks, and nerves in your back funciton togther.

If something somewhere in that delicate system goes awry, back pain can result. Structures that may be the cause of back pain include:

  • Bones or vertebrae - They can be misaligned, turned, tilted, or cracked, causing mechanical difficulties or pain with movement.
  • Discs - These are the cushions between each pair of vertebrae. Nerve irritation can be caused by their compression, bulging, or complete rupture.
  • Nerves - There is a pair on either side of each segment of the spine. If one becomes pinched, overstretched or irritated, the area it innervates may become numb, painful, or weak.
  • Ligaments - These hold two bones together and can be stretched or torn with forceful movement.
  • Muscles - While the back muscles are quite powerful, they are also susceptible to strain or excessive tightness and may lose their effectiveness at supporting the body properly or maintaining healthy posture.

Back pain is a very common ailment, and symptoms vary from minor and annoying to extremely serious. The tough part is determining the cause, then managing or treating the situation in order to achieve back pain relief.

   
What is Scoliosis?

Scoliosis Is a Common Cause of Back Pain

Scoliosis testing has just recently become common in public schools, but studies reveal that this condition has been a cause of back pain for years. Scoliosis is a condition in which the spine loses its normal curvature and develops a lateral curve. When this occurs, the individual vertebrates located on the the spine are also stressed, causing the ribcage to distort. Scoliosis has been found to be more common in women, but its causes have yet to be determined.

As a result of scoliosis, back pain symptoms may wreak havoc along the curve of the spine. Generally speaking, the severity of the pain depends on the level of distortion. More serious curves will produce more back pain and even paralysis. Typically, back pain from scoliosis will be accompanied by bouts of tingling & numbness.

Regardless of severity, scoliosis is a serious condition that must be treated to prevent bodily harm. If you think you may be experiencing back pain from scoliosis, please consult with a clinician for further evaluation.

   
How can I deal with chronic back pain?

The Drain of Pain: Dealing with Chronic Back Pain

If you have chronic back pain, you know how it can negatively affect your entire life-- lost work days, cancelled trips, missed games, and just plain misery. The physical and emotional drain of continual or recurring discomfort in the back can be quite difficult to deal with; constant low grade pain stresses the body and mind, and pain that comes and goes can catch you off guard and throw a wrench in any plan. Here are some tips to achieve chronic back pain relief:

  • First and foremost, identify the source of the pain. Knowing what the cause is will not only help you to properly treat the symptoms, but it will also help you to become more adept at identifying the onset of a pain episode. Being proactive in this way can prevent an instance of pain from turning into a full-blown episode.
  • Work with your doctor to find the medication that works best for you. One type of pain or anti-inflammatory medication may be more effective than another in your particular case.
  • For chronic pain, consult a pain management specialist. By taking a multidisciplinary approach to your pain, you will learn to manage or even avoid severe episodes. Such an approach includes consulting with physicians and nurses to manage your pain meds, psychologists to address depression and anxiety, and physical therapists to increase strength and mobility.
  • Additional avenues to help address chronic pain include stress relief, relaxation exercises, improved sleep and nutrition habits, and regular exercise. Go online and check out these organizations that offer peer support for people living with chronic pain and their families: National Pain Foundation; National Chronic Pain Society; American Chronic Pain Association

   
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Jerry Mayo