What are the most common options for treating back pain?
Treating back pain is estimated to be a 60-billion-dollar business, just here in the U.S. While we can’t say that everyone will experience back pain at some point in their lives, we would not be very far off if we did. Back pain is second only to upper respiratory infections when it comes to visits to our family physicians and affects close to 90 percent of all Americans at one time or another.
So many of the diseases and conditions that people struggle with are age-related: the older we get the more likely we are to develop them. Back pain is one of the exceptions, being the number one reason that individuals under the age of 40 become unable to perform their normal daily tasks, both on the job and at home.
Back Pain: Acute or Chronic
Pain, in general, is divided into two basic categories, acute and chronic. Back pain is no exception. What differentiates these are:
- acute back pain — when pain does not last for more than a few days or several weeks, at most, it is considered acute, or short term. With acute pain, the cause is often known and associated with a particular event.
- chronic back pain — long term pain, referring to a condition that continues for months, is designated as chronic pain. The cause may not be known and the severity of the pain may fluctuate but not go away completely.
Causes for Back Pain
We ask a lot of our bodies, and the back, in particular, is tasked in one way or another during the majority of movements. We even place stress on the spine in the way we sit or stand, without actually moving at all. This presents a wide range of possibilities for strains and injuries, in addition to the other types of conditions that can result in back pain. Some of the most common causes of back pain include:
- Strains — muscles and ligaments associated with the spine can be strained due to lifting, sudden or unbalanced movements, excess body weight and poor conditioning
- Arthritis — typically it is the degenerative form of arthritis, osteoarthritis, that affects the spine and results in chronic back pain
- Ruptured disks — also called bulging disks, this condition can put painful pressure on nerves in the spine, although it is possible to have a ruptured disk without noticeable pain
- Scoliosis — this is an example of an irregularity in the curvature of the spine resulting in chronic back pain
- Osteoporosis — associated with aging and bones in the spine become weaker and more brittle leading to frequent fractures
- Trauma — often resulting in a fracture
The Good News Related to Treating Back Pain: Better Options
Back pain used to be especially scary because of the belief that it might require back surgery. This has become much rarer and even the days of prescribing powerful pain medications, including opiates, are being put behind us. We have learned that, their inherent dangers aside, they really aren’t all that effective in treating back pain.
Most acute back pain that does not involve a fracture or serious issues, like incontinence or numbness, will typically heal on its own. If the pain persists more than a few days, your healthcare professional will usually suggest some combination of the following, depending on the severity of the pain and duration of symptoms:
- Over the counter pain medications
- Ice and/or heat
- Physical therapy
- Stress reduction aids
- Targeted exercises
- Steroid injections
- Alternative forms of therapy such as yoga and acupuncture
At Long Island Spine Rehabilitation Medicine, our physicians are committed to more than just treating your symptoms. We strongly believe that each individual is best served through an integrative treatment plan. We focus on finding the underlying cause and providing non-surgical, evidenced-based solutions tailored to your specific condition and needs. If you are experiencing back pain or have questions about any condition or service, we invite you to schedule a consultation by using our convenient online form by clicking here.