Back pain seems to be a right of passage into adulthood these days. Whether acute or chronic, almost everyone will experience back pain in their lifetime, ranging from slightly irritating to completely debilitating.
The following article explains some of the most common back issues, their identifying features, and how chiropractic medicine can help to resolve them. This is a general guideline to help you in your quest for effective treatment, but we highly recommend that you seek a professional opinion to diagnose these issues properly.
UNDERSTANDING BACK PAIN
The anatomy of the back consists of many different structures that work together to support your body. Understanding the different parts of the back is essential to locating and addressing the source of the pain.
The spine is the foundation of the back, made up of 33 small bones called vertebrae that protect the spinal cord. Cushion-like pads called intervertebral discs sit between each vertebra. Ligaments hold the vertebrae in place, while tendons connect the surrounding muscles to the bone. Damage to any of these structures can lead to pain, discomfort, and in severe cases, immobility.
The four regions of the spine where you may experience pain include:
- The cervical spine (neck)
- Thoracic spine (upper/middle back)
- Lumbar spine (lower back)
- The sacrum/coccyx (tailbone)
TOP 5 CAUSES OF BACK PAIN
Mechanical or structural problems with the spine, inflammatory conditions, and other medical conditions can cause back pain.
1. DISC BULGES AND HERNIATIONS
When the spongy center of the discs in between your vertebrae pushes through a tear in the outer, rubbery part of the disc, it causes bulging or herniation. While a surprisingly common issue, the intensity of pain depends on the position of the herniation. Some people feel no pain at all; however, if the damaged disc irritates a surrounding nerve, pain in the buttocks, legs, or back can be severe and even affect your ability to walk.
When left untreated, bulging discs usually develop over time and affect multiple discs causing other degeneration-related issues, like lumbar stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal).
Working with a chiropractor in Willowbrook can help you determine the extent of the issue and a course of action to relieve pain and prevent worsening of the herniation.
A subluxation, also known as a vertebral subluxation complex, is a misalignment of the spine that places excessive pressure on the spinal nerves causing severe back pain. Spinal dislocation can be quite painful and, if left untreated, can lead to degenerative processes in the surrounding areas.
Subluxations can occur for a number of reasons, including:
- Poor posture
- Prolonged sitting
- Improper lifting
- Alcohol or drug use
- Emotional stress
Subluxations are one of the most commonly overlooked contributors to back pain. Our chiropractors are trained to identify and realign subluxations using non-invasive adjustment techniques to improve and promote wellness.
3. MUSCULAR SPRAINS & TENDON STRAINS
Another common cause of back pain is repeated heavy lifting or sudden awkward movements that put a strain on back muscles and spinal ligaments. Constant strains like this can lead to weak tendons and muscle spasms. These can be extremely painful and are often accompanied by swelling and bruising of the surrounding area. Back sprains typically cause spine alignment changes and respond well to chiropractic realignments.
4. STRESS AND BACK PAIN
While you may think of stress as something that only impacts your mental health, chronic stress can also wreak havoc on your physical health. When you are feeling stressed or anxious, your body releases cortisol and adrenaline, causing an involuntary tightening of your muscles, often in the neck, shoulders, and spine.
Prolonged tension in these areas can lead to back pain and, in severe cases, may lead to Myofascial pain syndrome. Myofascial pain syndrome is a chronic disorder in which pressure on sensitive points in your muscles (trigger points) causes pain in the area and seemingly unrelated parts of your body. This syndrome typically occurs after a muscle has been contracted repetitively by motions used in jobs, hobbies, or stress-related muscle tension.
Chiropractors have the knowledge and tools to relieve stress from trigger points and to deal with underlying nervous system imbalances that may keep your body locked in patterns of stress and pain.
5. OTHER ISSUES THAT CAUSE BACK PAIN
Several other factors, such as obesity, arthritis, kidney stones, and urinary tract infections, have been shown to cause lower back pain. Many of these issues are tied to spinal misalignments and respond well to chiropractic adjustments.
Our trained Willowbrook chiropractors can identify these issues and offer support in creating the appropriate course of treatment. If you have questions about how our Complete Health Chiropractic team can help you tackle your back pain, please schedule a consultation today.