Archive for Back Pain
Back pain relief is just one component of chiropractic care, but it is often a patient’s first introduction. Back pain is horribly debilitating affecting all aspects of work and personal life. If you are suffering from back pain, you are not alone. Here are a few facts about back pain that may (or may not) surprise you.
• Back pain is the number one disability for those under age 45.
• In the United States of America alone, there is an expected 31 million people with lower back pain at any given time.
• Back pain runs second, after only the common cold, as the top reason for visiting a healthcare provider in the United States.
• Experts place the likelihood of any person to experience some type of back problem in their lifetime at about 80%. That’s four out of every five people!
• Over 50 billion dollars are spent per year in the pursuit of clearing up cases of back pain.
• Around 30 to 40 percent of all workplace absences are due to back pain.
• Approximately one quarter of U.S. adults reported having low back pain lasting at least one whole day in the past three months, and 7.6 percent reported at least one episode of severe acute low back pain within a one-year period.
• One-half of all working Americans admit to having back pain symptoms each year.
• Approximately 2 percent of the U.S. work force is compensated for back injuries each year
• Lower back pain accounts for two thirds of all back pain-related cases.
• More than two-thirds of back strains are caused by lifting and other exertions like pulling and pushing.
• Most cases of back pain are mechanical or non-organic—meaning they are not caused by serious conditions, such as inflammatory arthritis, infection, fracture or cancer.
The key to proper treatment of back pain is to understand the cause. Remember, pain is always a sign that something else is wrong and if continually ignored may lead to more serious harm. Chiropractors are experts in assessing the root cause of your back pain and putting you on the right course to recovery.
*What You Can Learn From America’s Back Pain Experience*
A June 2010 article by Associated Press Medical Writer Lauran Neergaard shines a bright light on the problem of back pain in America.In the article, entitled “Back Pain May Be Widely Over-Treated in the U.S.”, she raises some great questions about how we’re spending our healthcare dollars, what we’re getting for it and why.
/”By one recent estimate, Americans are spending a staggering $86 billion a year in care for aching backs—from MRIs to pain pills to nerve blocks to acupuncture.That research found little evidence that the population got better as the bill soared over the past decade.”/
Ms. Neergaard’s writing hits close to home, and the situation she describes is probably familiar to anyone who’s tried to find relief from serious back pain in the past few years. But what does it all mean to you if you or someone you care about is a patient looking for relief?
Here’s a quick summary of the more important takeaways from Ms. Neergard’s article as well as some practical points to keep in mind as you consider your options and work with your healthcare provider on a treatment plan:
1.While back pain in general is a widespread problem in the U.S., the specifics always come down to the individual.There is no silver bullet—the treatment that was effective for your neighbor may not be right for you.Your healthcare provider can evaluate your symptoms and advise you on the appropriateness of alternative therapies.
2.Time is usually on your side when it comes to back pain.Up to 90% of patients will heal on their own within a matter of weeks.Unless your healthcare provider sees “red flag” symptoms, patients should generally exhaust their noninvasive options first before considering surgery.
3.”Exercise is medicine, but it has to be the right exercise.”Formal exercise programs that are designed and supervised by experts can be effective provided that the patient is able to manage and function with pain.
4.Your own motivation and attitude can make a big difference in the effectiveness of your treatment.Patients who can work through pain, stay focused on the plan and get back to normal activity as quickly as possible will generally have the advantage when it comes to recovery.
5.Make sure you have access to a neutral third party (perhaps your chiropractor or family doctor) who can help you weigh the advice of various specialists and navigate through your choices.And always get a second opinion if surgery is being considered.
Back pain is a complex phenomenon and it’s often very difficult to treat successfully.At a time when health science regularly produces new miracles and we’ve come to expect instant results, it can be difficult for us to keep this basic truth in perspective.What comes through loud and clear in Ms. Neergaard’s article is that our most advanced diagnostic technologies and sophisticated surgical procedures are not solving the back pain problem for millions of Americans.And that it’s costing us a great deal of money to fail using our most expensive techniques.
This raises two big-picture questions, not just for U.S. health care policy makers and administrators, but for anyone who’s trying to make smart decisions about back pain treatment:
1.Given the pervasiveness of back pain in America, the number of people who are likely suffering without treatment and the kinds of issues Ms. Neergaard writes about, can it really be said that we’re “over-treating” back pain?Wouldn’t it be closer to the truth to say that we’re mistreating it by using too many of the wrong tools in too many of the wrong cases?If so, what does her reporting really suggest about the direction we should be headed?
2.There are many factors contributing to our national back pain epidemic, and many of them have to do with our lifestyle choices and the way we manage our health more broadly.What should we be willing to spend for an ounce of prevention when it comes to back pain?
*How Your Chiropractic Physician Can Help*
If you or someone you care about is suffering with back pain, call your Doctor of Chiropractic.Chiropractic Physicians are specially licensed and trained to diagnose and treat conditions related to the musculoskeletal system and the nerves that support it.They can help relieve back pain by using spinal adjustments.This spinal manipulation is the primary form of treatment performed by chiropractic physicians and is a widely recognized back pain therapy.Research has shown that manipulative therapy and spinal manipulation are not only safe and effective, but can also produce results more quickly and less expensively than other alternatives.
Many chiropractors are also skilled in designing and supervising exercise and nutrition programs.They’re committed to helping patients achieve a healthier lifestyle that prevents illness and promotes performance.
Back Pain May be Widely Over-Treated in the U.S..MSNBC Pain Center.Lauran Neergaard.June 8, 2010.Accessed August 2011.
Understanding the cause of your back pain is the key to proper treatment.There are many different underlying conditions that cause back pain. The more common causes of back pain are described below. Don’t try to make your own diagnosis. A trained chiropractor that deals with back pain complaints on a daily basis will know what to look for and what questions to ask you to determine the underlying cause.
1. *Muscle strains and muscle spasms* are the most common cause of low back pain.Patients may or may not remember the initial event that triggered their muscle spasm. Back pain from muscle spasms can be incredibly painful and feel like nerve pain when the muscle tighten and twitch around a key nerve such as the sciatic nerve.
2. A ruptured intervertebral disc, also called a *herniated disc*, is another common cause of back pain. The terms ruptured, herniated, slipped and bulging disc don’t really have precise definitions to distinguish one from another and are often used somewhat interchangeably to describe protruding disc material. It is important to note that a large percent of the population is walking around with bulging discs that cause no symptoms, so not every herniated disc warrants treatment or intervention.
3. Discogenic back pain is the result of *damage to the intervertabral disc*, but without disc herniation.Diagnosis of discogenic back pain may require the use of a discogram.
4. *Spinal stenosis* causes a lot of back pain in the elderly.As we age, the spinal canal can become constricted from arthritis and other conditions.If the spinal canal becomes too tight, back pain can be the result.
5. *Arthritis* most commonly affects joints such as the knees and fingers.However, arthritis can affect any joint in the body, including the small joints of the spine.Arthritis of the spine can cause back pain with movement.
6. *Spondylolisthesis* causes back pain because adjacent vertebra become unstable and begin to “slip.”The most common cause of spondylolisthesis are degenerative changes causing loss of the normal stabilizing structures of the spinal column.
As stated earlier, backaches are hard to self-diagnose.The causes listed above are just a few of more common possibilities.If you suffer from acute or chronic backaches, consult a qualified chiropractor for a complete exam.