Back pain is an extremely common ailment that can affect everyone from the middle-aged corporate employee to the teenager soccer player to the senior citizen. The problem with back pain is that it could be caused by countless different conditions. If you are suffering from back pain and trying to figure out what might be causing it, take a look at four of the most common back injuries and how you can treat each one.
- Sciatica: Many people mistake sciatica as a condition when it is actually the symptom of a condition. This condition is known as nerve compression or a pinched nerve. When there is pressure on your sciatic nerve (the longest nerve in your body), it leads to the painful, annoying problem that is sciatica. Some signs of sciatica include pain that increases any time you sit down, a numbness or tingling sensation in your legs, chronic pain on one side of your calf or backside, and a sharp pain that occurs when you are walking or standing. The good news is that, as frustrating as sciatica is, if you catch it as soon as possible and treat it correctly, you can return to a pain-free existence. If the pain is still relatively mild, start with a basic hot and cold therapy regimen. Use a heating pad for the first fifteen minutes before applying an ice pack to the affected areas. Switch off from heat to cold every fifteen minutes and do this at least once a day until you begin to feel some relief. Another thing to do when the pain is not yet too severe it to take an over-the-counter pain reliever. For cases of more severe back pain, you will want to see a pain specialist to go over the various treatment options. The pain specialist might recommend steroid injections for the most severe cases. Other times, you might need to see a chiropractor or physical therapist. Massage is also a viable option as well as some basic, gentle stretches and exercises. Lastly, some other options could include something as simple a maintaining proper posture and wearing a lumbar back support for a period of time.
- Bad Posture: The technical term for the all too common bad posture is “postural dysfunction”. This occurs when a person sits, stands, or lies down in an unnatural position for too long. If someone maintains poor posture starting from a young age, it will lead to serious, chronic pain problems later on in life. The best treatment for poor posture is prevention. If you have maintained proper posture all of your life, there is very little chance that you will end up with chronic back problems unless they are caused by something else. When you know your back pain and other painful, irritating symptoms are caused by bad posture, several things will begin to happen once you correct your posture: your core will be strengthened, your migraines will be less frequent or will go away completely, you will improve your oxygen intake, you will experience greater confidence and energy levels, and your chronic back and neck pain will go away. When you have bad posture, your energy goes down because of the shallow breathing that occurs when you are not standing or sitting correctly. It also goes without saying that bad posture leads to neck and back pain that starts out as acute and becomes chronic if the posture is never corrected. You don’t get enough oxygen when you have bad posture because your rib cage and diaphragm do not expand as they ought to. You also develop migraines because of the strain that you are putting on your neck. This head pain is also caused by the lack of oxygen that you are getting. The best way to correct bad posture is to become more aware of how you sit and stand. Correct round shoulders by pulling them back slightly, raising your chin, elongating your neck, and maintaining a strong core.
- A Back Muscle Injury: A back muscle injury could be caused by a multitude of different things including a sports injury, a strain from heavy lifting, or a repetitive motion that you have been performing over and over again. A back muscle injury could also be the result of maintaining poor posture, being overweight, or falling. Some symptoms associated with a back muscle injury include a sore lower back, noticeably tender areas in your back, spasms in your muscles, stiffness, pain in your legs, thighs, or backside, pain that worsens with sudden movement, standing or walking, and fatigue or weakness in your leg or back muscles. A back muscle injury can be prevented by sleeping in the right positions on a comfortable, supportive mattress, ditching the smoking habit if you have one (this will lead to healthier blood flow in your muscles), maintaining a nutritious diet, staying properly hydrated, standing and sitting with proper posture, and performing exercises correctly. If you are suffering from a back muscle injury, some things you can do to treat the injury include rest, massage therapy, physical therapy, and ice and heat therapy (switching back and forth from using a heating pad and ice pack on the injured area). If you see your physician or a pain specialist regarding the injury, you might be prescribed some muscle relaxants or anti-inflammatory medications. Depending on the severity of the injury, you might also benefit from wearing a supportive brace for a couple of days or a couple of weeks.
- Upper Back Pain: This painful condition is extraordinarily common and you shouldn’t be surprised if you experience it for a time at some point in your life. If you have upper back pain, you will want to pinpoint what is causing it as it could be many different things. Upper back pain might be triggered by something as simple as a muscle sprain or strain or something a bit more complex such as cervical osteoarthritis, cervical degenerative disc disease, or frozen shoulder, depending on what other symptoms you have in addition to the upper back pain. The best thing you can do is visit a pain specialist to get a proper diagnosis and in turn the proper treatment. If your upper back pain is caused by a mild muscle injury due to carrying a heavy backpack, whiplash, or an improper sleeping position, you will want to rest your neck and upper back, avoid activities that cause stress to the area, take pain medications, and use a hot and cold compress. If the problem persists, your doctor might advise other forms of treatment or a supportive brace. If it is something slightly more severe such as cervical degenerative disc disease, you might not necessarily need surgery especially if the problem is addressed early on. Consult with a pain specialist and they will prescribe you medication, instruct you to wear a brace, or tell you to visit a physical therapist routinely until the problem is corrected.
Looking for more information related to common back injuries and how to correctly treat each one? Or are your suffering from another painful condition affecting your back, neck, elbows, ankles, knees, or other body part? Don’t hesitate to contact us today with any questions that you might have.