Back pain is one of the most common reasons people end up at the doctor or miss work, and it’s also a leading cause of disability worldwide. Luckily, there are some home treatments that can help with back pain, and in many cases, adopting proper body mechanics and other simple changes can lead to a resolution in your back pain symptoms without the need for surgery or harmful pain medicines.
Every day, we subject our backs to all kinds of strong forces through things like work and exercise, accidents, and even due to poor posture. All of these things put stress on the spine’s many interconnected and overlapping structures that can lead to injuries and back pain back pain.
What are the some of the most common causes of back pain?
Sprains & Strains
A sprain refers to an injury to a ligament, and ligaments support the spine, including the joints where our vertebra come together. A strain, on the other hand, refers to an injury to the muscle and/or tendons, which connect muscle to a bone.
A spinal sprain or strain can happen due to things such as falls, poor body mechanics (e.g., lifting and twisting simultaneously), or even from a car accident. Sprains and strains are usually quite painful and may temporarily limit your movement.
Compressed Spinal Nerves
When a spinal nerve root is compressed, squeezed, or pinched, it can become inflamed and start sending messages to the brain that it interprets as pain. Many different injuries and disorders can cause nerve compression, including herniated disc(s), thickened ligament(s), and bone spurs.
Herniated or Bulging Lumbar Disc
Your spine is made up of 24 bones (vertebra) with soft discs between them that act as cushions, or shocks. The discs themselves are made up of two parts: a tough outer layer that holds the disc together, and a gel-like interior that helps to soften the impact of walking, lifting, and other everyday activities.
A herniated disc occurs when the inner tissue of the disc ruptures (or herniates) through a tear in the outer disc wall. This can compress the spinal nerve root and may cause back pain. Depending on the severity of nerve compression or damage, you may also develop buttock, thigh, and leg pain.
Degenerative Disc Disease
Degenerative disc disease is the cause of many age-related spine problems and is most often a result of the aging process. As we age, our bodies undergo changes at the cellular levels, and things like the intervertebral discs begin to dehydrate, and their shape and/or height may change, which affects the space between two vertebrae.
How can you prevent back pain?
The good news is that there are several strategies you can use to prevent the onset of and/or progression of back pain before it becomes debilitating, including some simple things like:
- Maintaining a healthy body weight
- Engaging in exercises that strengthen your core muscles. These can be gentle and low-impact activities, such as swimming, walking, yoga, or Pilates
- Utilizing good posture and body mechanics (e.g., lifting by bending your knees, rather than your waist)
- Sleeping on a mattress that supports your spine
- Avoiding harmful habits like smoking
Exercises to Reduce Back Pain
Many people find that exercises designed to increase core strength can help by providing symptomatic relief, especially when combined with other elements of pain management, such as taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like Tylenol, Advil, and Aleve.
Examples of exercises that can help with symptoms of back pain include:
- Partial stomach crunches
- Toe Touches
- Hamstring Stretches
- Leg Lifts
- Wall Sits
- Press-Up Back Extensions
- Pelvic Tilts
As with all exercises, stretching before and after a workout is extremely important. Be sure to combine stretching, strengthening, and low-impact aerobic conditioning exercises such as walking, swimming, and even yoga to get the most relief. Utilizing these three components of exercise can help with existing problems as well as prevent injuries and future back problems by strengthening the muscles that support your back and spine, making them more flexible, and repairing damage.
When to see a doctor for back pain
Most of the causes of back pain or neck pain will gradually improve with home treatment and self-care within a few days or weeks. If your pain doesn’t improve in that time, you should contact your doctor so he or she can perform tests and make sure you’re not at risk for any serious health conditions.
Seek immediate care if your back pain if you experience any bowel or bladder problems, fever, or if your pain is the result of a fall, a blow to the back or other serious injury.
Quantum Pain and Sports Medicine can help
If you have back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain or any other kind of acute musculoskeletal pain, the experts at Quantum Pain and Sports Medicine can help. We are not just experts at diagnosing and treating pain, we are your source for holistic pain management, offering diet and nutrition plans, exercise and physical therapy plans and more to get you started on the path to wellness today.
Call 469.913.6136 or contact us to learn more.