Chronic back pain does not go away. You wake up with it, spend the whole day with it and later go to sleep with it. Hundreds and hundreds of people live with chronic back pain every day. They manage to live with it with the help of painkillers.
First of all, you must understand what chronic back pain is. This is constant back pain that lasts for more than 12 weeks. Many causes bring about a chronic back pain that can affect different levels of the spine – lower back, cervical, mid back and upper back.
How do you get Accurate Diagnosis of Chronic Back
A definite diagnosis of whether your back pain is chronic is based on how a patient responds to treatment. If a doctor treats your back pain more than three months without showing signs of improvement, your back pain is diagnosed as chronic.
Depending on the severity of your back pain, you may need to see back specialist for better treatment. After some time of treatment, your back pain may change depending on how it is managed.
Chronic back pain treatment and management include a combination of therapies to help in attaining better results. Here is some of the treatment that your doctor might recommend for your chronic back pain.
Physical therapy involves stretching and strengthening of back muscles. Your doctor may request for physical therapy if your pain has lasted for more than three months. The general objective of physical therapy is to decrease pain, increase spine function and also provide adequate knowledge to the patient to prevent reoccurrence.
Physical therapy involves two components;
• Passive therapy which its main objective is to manage chronic pain into a manageable level.
• Active physical therapy that mainly involves physical body workout and combines with passive therapy to help rehabilitate the spine.
Your doctor may recommend a chiropractic care depending on your back diagnosis. Sometimes, manipulations of the spine twice or thrice weekly can be of significant improvement for patients with chronic back pain
Different kinds of prescription medicine can be used to treat back pain. Inflammation or muscle strain can cause back pain. The drugs are meant to treat the cause factor of the back pain. Back pain medicine includes painkillers, drugs to help you sleep, antidepressants or drugs to reduce anxiety.
When your back pain cannot be relieved with medicine, your doctor may prescribe spinal injections, spinal cord stimulation or spine surgery. If you do not feel comfortable with the procedure recommended to you, you can always seek a second opinion.
Never joke or underestimate the power of the mind. You can look for a specialist to help you cope and live with your back pain. Your physiological point of view can help you overcome the level of pain.
Sometimes, you doctor may recommend other forms of treatment like acupuncture or other traditional Chinese treatment. Make a point talk to your doctor before starting any.
Causes of Chronic Back Pain
Many things can cause chronic back pain, but the list is broken down into three categories.
- Unknown reasons
- Nerve damage
- Other factors other than nerve damage
Other factors other than nerve Damage
We can never avoid getting old. As we get old, our cartilages surrounding the joints wear out. The joints become inflamed due to the tear and wear and with time cause osteoarthritis of the spine. The inflammations cause so much pain on the back that is constant. The damaged joints and cartilage become the reasons for the chronic back pain.
Above is just an example of causes of chronic back pain. Other causes include;
- An injury on the back.
- Poor sitting, standing or sleeping posture.
- Obesity or overweight
Various factors can damage the nerves in the spine. For example, a never can be damaged by herniated disc. The pain can remain even after treating the herniated discs.
When a spinal nerve gets damaged, it has trouble relaying the message to the brain. The nerve can stop sending pain messages to the brain even if the cause of the pain no longer exists.
Many are times the doctors cannot pinpoint the actual cause of chronic back pain. Most are times the doctors work only to reduce the extent of the pain other than the root problem of the pain. The treatment of chronic back pain is a process and takes time to identify the actual cause of the pain.
How Chronic Back Pain Differs from Acute Pain
Is your back pain acute or chronic? Pain is a normal part of life, and we all go through it at one point in our lives, but pain can at times be severe and unmanageable.
Acute pain -This is a common pain that warns you when you get hurt. It’s simply the body’s normal response to damage such as physical injuries or cuts. The pain is sudden and often goes away within a few weeks or months if treated properly. If left unchecked the acute pain may become chronic and irritating.
Chronic Pain– This is severe pain that lasts for more than three months and doesn’t resolve in response to treatment. Chronic pain is more of a disease rather than a sign of another health problem. It alters a patient’s nervous system making them more sensitive to pain and also makes pain sensation last longer and severe.
Exercise for Chronic Back Pain
Chronic pain affects the brain’s ability to change with experience and use. Fortunately, exercise is a key factor in restoring normal ability of the brain and nervous system.
Walking and Running
Walking and running increase blood flow in the body, which boosts energy levels and the amount of oxygen. For patients who are capable of walking, it’s a simple exercise which can be done anywhere from the treadmill to the park. Running involves a lot of muscles groups including the back, arms, and legs. It helps in reducing stiffness and pain in the affected areas.
Exercising in water reduces the downward pressure of gravity, reduces the risk of injury and chronic back pain during exercise. Water therapy lessons are taught in warm water, which helps in soothing the joints and muscles. Swimming helps in relaxing the muscles, while the buoyancy of water helps in joint pains. It improves heart problems, increases stamina, strength and flexibility. Swimming involves back, legs, shoulders, and arms making it an efficient way of working out.
Some yoga positions include gentle stretching, slow movements and relaxed poses which involve the spine and joints. Research acknowledges yoga as the most efficient way of combating chronic back pain. Holding yoga positions isn’t meant to be uncomfortable, abandoned awkward poses before they cause further complications. Yoga has many physical and mental benefits from strengthening your bones and muscles to relieving depression.
Weight lifting is thought to be for the big muscled guys in the gym, but muscle strengthening can be helpful in controlling chronic pain. Weight lifting strengthens the muscles around the joints releasing the tension ant strain. Before starting strength training consult a physical fitness expert.
Anatomy of Chronic Back Pain
Spinal anatomy is a combination of strong bones, flexible ligaments/tendons, muscles and nerves roots. People often don’t bother to understand the form and functions of the spine until it becomes a source of pain. Chronic occurs when;
- Large nerve roots that run to the arms and legs get irritated
- The large back muscles get strained
- The bones and ligaments get injured
- The spinal disc degenerate or small nerves become irritated
A review of the spinal anatomy is critical in understanding the causes of chronic back pain. Pain shouldn’t be a lifestyle, and we should work effectively to prevent it.