Back pain is one of the most common health complaints cited by adult Americans in the United States today, with as many as 31 million people suffering from some degree of back-based discomfort at any given time. Lower back pain is also the leading cause of disability worldwide, leading to countless missed days at work and having a significant effect on the economy.
Back pain can manifest in many ways. Some patients may experience short, acute pains in a specific part of their back, while others live with chronic discomfort for days, weeks or even months at a time. Statistics from 2017 show that around 54% of American adults have had neck or back pain for more than 5 years.
What causes back pain?
The back is an extremely complicated structure of bones, joints, ligaments and muscles, all of which can be irritated or damaged, leading to back pain. Sometimes even the smallest and simplest movements can cause someone to experience pain and discomfort in their back, and in some instances, this can be the start of a prolonged period of aches and even mobility problems.
There are countless different causes of back pain, and many people go through life without ever really determining why they are experiencing such discomfort. Nevertheless, there are some reasons for back pain that are more common than others.
Muscle and ligament sprains
Lower back muscles or ligament sprains can happen suddenly, such as being involved in an automobile accident. Other patients may develop a muscle or ligament sprain slowly over a prolonged of time. This is most often due to repetitive strain injuries.
Common causes of muscle and ligament strains include:
- Sudden movements that place too much stress on the lower back
- Heavy lifting
- Twisting the spine while lifting
- Sports injuries
Degenerative disc disease
Degenerative disc disease is another leading cause of back pain. The condition occurs as a result of the natural degeneration of the intervertebral discs, which help to cushion the bones of spine. As we get older, these discs lose hydration and are unable to absorb force and impact as well as they once did. Subsequent weakening and tears, and eventually herniation, can cause the patient to experience back pain.
Carrying excess weight puts a great deal of tension on our bodies, and in particular our spine. This is also especially true if we carry a lot of the additional weight on our stomach as this causes the pelvis to pull forwards and places strain on our lower back.
While you may not notice it at the time, the way that you sit can have a profound effect on whether or not you experience back pain. Posture refers to the position of our body when we are sitting down, and poor posture is well known to be a contributing factor in the development of back pain. In fact, many workplaces are now supplying ergonomic chairs and other aids to help ensure that their employees have the best posture possible. This could help reduce the number of workers suffering from back pain and requiring time off sick.
How can chiropractic care help with back pain?
Chiropractors specialize in assessing, diagnosing and managing conditions of the spine. They have particular skill in identifying the source of back pain. However, in addition to this, most chiropractors can also offer a great deal of general lifestyle advice for managing your condition, such as information on diet and exercise, which many be valuable if your back pain is due to a problem such as obesity.
In the majority of cases, chiropractors will help alleviate your pain using something known as spinal manipulation. This is where they use their hands to free stiff or restricted joints, as well as helping to mobilize them so that they can move more easily and without causing you pain. Stretching exercises and physical therapy also form a regular part of chiropractic recommendations.
Before giving you any sort of treatment, your chiropractor will undertake a full assessment of your health and medical history, as well as performing a physical examination. In some cases, it may be necessary to refer you for x-rays, MRI or blood panels. The information gained from this assessment will be invaluable in the planning and execution of your treatment program.
If you are suffering from back pain and would like to be assessed by a chiropractor, our dedicated team would be delighted to assist you. Please telephone our Fort Pierce, FL office to make an appointment.