Back pain commonly affects most adults in the US. Studies have shown that it is one of the leading causes of activity limitation. Back pain is also one of the main reasons most Americans are absent from work.
Back pain is debilitating, uncomfortable, and can affect people of all ages. Lower back pain becomes more evident as we age! But, of course, factors like previous occupation and spondylosis can also increase the odds of having acute back pain.
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Types of Back Pain
Back pain is classified into thoracic back pain and middle back pain.
Middle Back Pain
Middle back pain is common amongst obese people, pregnant women, and smokers. It occurs on or above the lumbar region. The symptoms could be mild and difficult to diagnose.
Thoracic Back Pain
This occurs in the thoracic spine, which is located at the thorax (behind the chest). Extending from the neck to the lumbar spine. It is caused by poor sitting and standing posture, lack of muscular strength, and a strain or sprain.
Symptoms and Diagnosis of Back Pain
The main symptom of back pain is acute or mild pain in the back. Sometimes, the pain can extend down to the legs and buttocks. It is important to note that some back issues can cause discomfort in other areas of the body. Most times, the pain will go away on its own. If it doesn’t, and you experience any following, you should consult your health care professional.
- Difficult urination
- Numbness around the buttocks, genitals, and anus
- Leg pain
There are a plethora of ways that can be diagnosed, such as:
X-Ray: An X-ray can easily detect broken bones and reveal damage to the nerves, muscles, and disks. It can also unveil conditions like arthritis.
EMG: This takes readings of the electrical pulses that nerves produce. They are used to confirm spinal stenosis or nerve compression in the herniated disk region.
Bone Scan: A bone scan can detect everything from tumors to fractures caused by osteoporosis. A tracer is injected into the vein during the test to detect the problem.
CT Scans: This can help reveal problems with the blood vessels, tendons, bones, ligaments, and muscles.
Physical Therapist: A physical therapist diagnoses back pain by carrying out a musculoskeletal test.
Chiropractor: Chiropractors use visual examination and touch for diagnosis. These experts can adjust the spinal joints and other trouble areas. Before they proceed with the examination, they may request a blood test and imaging scans.
Osteopath: Just like a chiropractor, Osteopaths use visual examination for diagnosis. Osteopaths use techniques like rhythmic stretching, high-velocity thrust, and several others to manipulate the joints and muscles. This, in turn, helps relieve pain.
How to Treat Back Pain
If it doesn’t subside after using at-home remedies, your doctor may recommend the following:
- Physical Therapy
Here ultrasounds, heat, ice, and muscle-release techniques are used to address the pain. The therapist will recommend strength exercises that target the back and abdomen as the condition improves. Patients are encouraged to continue with strength exercises even after the ache is gone. This will help prevent it from coming back.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy can help address it by encouraging patients to think differently.
OTC painkillers can help relieve this torment. However, if it doesn’t address the issue, your doctor may prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medication for a while.
- Steroid Injections
During the procedure, the steroids are injected into the troubled areas to relieve pain. However, it wears off after a mere 3-4 months!
Surgery isn’t usually needed to address back pain. However, if all non-surgical treatments cannot address the issue, your doctor may recommend a surgical procedure.
How to Manage Back Pain
Here are some effective ways to manage back pain.
- Regular Exercise: Regular exercise can strengthen the muscles in the back and abdominal region.
- Essential Oils: Essential oils made with capsaicin, an active neuropeptide agent, can help alleviate strain.
- Ice Therapy: Ice therapy can help reduce inflammation and pain. To get the best results without damaging your skin, you should wrap the ice packs in a towel and apply them to the afflicted area.
- Can back pain affect young people? It can affect people of all ages, though older people are more prone to it.
- When should I worry about back pain? If your back pain is accompanied by symptoms like loss of bladder control, high fever, stomach strain, and weakness in the legs, you should seek medical attention immediately.
Healthier Me Today is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment, always consult with your healthcare professional. Stay healthy!