Millions of people around the world suffer from back pain for a number of reasons and are affected at any age. A lack of treatment can lead to the development of other, more serious issues and disabilities. We know that our chances of developing back pain increase as we get older, which is why many elderly people appear to have poor posture.
Early diagnosis, treatment and prevention can help you live a higher quality of life and continue being active well into your retirement ages. In most cases, simple techniques and proper body mechanics can heal your back pain within weeks, removing the need for expensive surgical procedures or medical treatment.
Let’s take a look at the most common causes of back pain, how you can treat them and how you can prevent further damage to your back in the future.
What Causes Back Pain?
Our backs are composed of a number of ligaments, bones, muscles, disks and tendons, which work together to support our body and enable movement. Each segment of your spine is cushioned by a disk made of a cartilage-like material. When problems arise within any of these components, it can lead to back pain. Here are the most common causes.
Problems with the structure of your spine are generally experienced later in life, but some issues can arise at any age and are worth looking into as a potential cause for your back pain.
Sciatica: When a bulged or herniated disk puts pressure on a nerve in your back, it can cause a sharp pain to shoot through your lower back and down your leg.
Arthritis: In some cases of osteoarthritis, the space around your spinal cord narrows, resulting in spinal stenosis. Other types of arthritis can cause issues in your joints, hips and lower back.
Ruptured or Bulging Disks: If there’s a rupture or increased pressure on the nerves around your disks, it can result in back pain.
Osteoporosis: This disease causes the bones in your back to become brittle, which increases the likelihood of compression fractures.
Scoliosis: While generally not experienced until middle age, scoliosis is a condition in which your spine curves to the side.
Kidney Problems: Kidney stones and infections can cause back pain.
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Everyday activities such as working in an office, gaming and general poor posture will inevitably result in back pain. Other activities associated with back pain include coughing, sneezing, twisting and over-stretching. Standing or bending awkwardly for long periods can also contribute to overall poor posture.
Even sleeping on an unsupportive pillow or mattress can result in back pain, as well as long driving sessions such as your work commute. In these cases, back pain can be prevented by being mindful of the way you sit, stand and sleep. Good posture is not only essential for avoiding back pain, but will also ensure your overall health and range of movement.
Back pain can not only stem from issues with your bone and cartilage structure, but also your muscles. General muscle and ligament strain, spasms, tension and injuries can contribute to back pain. This can come from certain sports, improper posture when lifting heavy objects and making abrupt or awkward movements.
While syndromes, disorders and diseases are the last thing you want to associate your back pain with, it’s worth looking into as there are a number of them that could be causing your suffering.
Spine Cancers and Infections: In the case of cancer, there may be a tumor pressing against a nerve in your vertebrae. If you experience a fever or warm feeling on your back, it could be an infection. A bladder or kidney infection may be to blame, along with pelvic inflammatory disease.
Sleep Disorders: If you have been diagnosed with a sleep disorder in the past, it’s worth considering it as a cause for your back pain as the two are commonly associated with each other.
Cauda equina syndrome: Symptoms of this syndrome include a dull pain or numbness in your lower back, buttocks or thighs. The cauda equina is a collection of nerve roots that starts at the lower end of your spinal cord.
How to Treat Back Pain
Home Remedies: Pain relief medication can be obtained over the counter, such as ibuprofen. These medications can help relieve discomfort and allow you to continue going about your daily activities. If you’re unable to obtain medication, you can reduce the pain by applying a hot water bottle or ice pack to the affected area.
Posture Improvement Techniques: These usually involve repeating a number of movements, such as standing up straight and putting your chin onto your neck. If you suspect that your back pain is the result of strain or poor posture, these techniques, in addition to practicing correct posture, can help you alleviate pain and prevent it from coming back.
Physical Therapy: You can consult a licensed professional to provide more effective relief through techniques such as electrical stimulation, ultrasound and muscle-relief therapy. Your therapist may also offer exercises that you can practice in order to further alleviate the pain. You can visit these experts for more information on how it works.
Complementary Therapy: This can include traditional treatments such as yoga, acupuncture and finger pressure therapy. An osteopath or chiropractor are also popular choices for treating back pain.
How to Prevent Back Pain
There are many things you can do in order to prevent your back pain from worsening or coming back in the future. This includes exercise, a healthy diet, reducing body weight, quitting smoking, improving your posture, using a proper mattress for sleep, and wearing flat shoes that put less strain on your back.
Generally speaking, following a healthy lifestyle and paying attention to the daily activities that could be impacting your back will go a long way in improving how you feel.
If you’ve tried the common treatments for back pain and the issue still persists, you may need to look into surgical procedures such as a discectomy, partial vertebra removal, fusion or an artificial disk. If your back pain is still in its early stages, try simply following a healthy lifestyle and using home techniques and remedies.