Whether you’re suffering from a pinched sciatic nerve, lumbago, a slipped disc, or muscular tension, back pain can be truly incapacitating. Let’s learn more about the different types of back pain and how you can treat it.
Did You Know?
Back pain has become the No. 1 widespread condition over the last few years.
There are two common causes of back pain: overworked muscles and an overloaded spine. Although back pain often disappears within three months, there are some things you can do to help speed up recovery, like physiotherapy and support garments (which we’ll get into).
The Spinal Column
Made up of 24 vertebrae, the spinal column is one of the main load-bearing elements in the human body, which is why it can cause frequent back pain.
Pain can develop in any one or all three of the sections of the spine - the cervical (neck), the thoracic and the lumbar spine. Back pain is typically caused by diseases or injuries of the discs (like a prolapsed intervertebral disc) or joints between the vertebrae (wear and tear, so-called "osteoarthritis of the facet joints") or other conditions.
About one-third of all cases of spinal pain affect the cervical spine, while two-thirds of the patients have symptoms in the lumbar spine, which is known as "low back pain" or lumbago. This lower section of the spine is more exposed to heavy stresses than anywhere else, especially because we walk upright or lift heavy objects with our backs bent.
Types of Back Pain
There are two ways to distinguish back pain, non-specific and specific. As one can guess, specific back pain is when there is a known cause of back pain, and non-specific is when there are no clear recognizable causes of pain. Most cases are non-specific, which means the exact cause of the pain cannot be diagnosed.
Back pain is usually diagnosed as follows:
- Acute Back Pain usually lasts for up to six weeks.
- Subacute Back Pain can last 6-12 weeks.
- Chronic Back Pain is pain that persists after 12 weeks.
Symptoms of Back Pain
Our backs put up with a lot of stress every day. Whether it’s hours sitting in the office slumped in front of the computer, doing some heavy lifting, or even bending down to clean, you’ve probably experienced some type of back pain. Other than the pain, you should always monitor your symptoms so you know when to take it seriously and see a doctor. Here are a few common things to look out for:
- Is the pain running into your arms and legs?
- Do you have a numbing feeling?
- Do certain movements hurt?
- Is your breathing affected?
- Do you have a headache? Are you dizzy?
Treatments for Back Pain
Treatment options for back pain range from wearing a support or brace taking medication, to physiotherapy or even an operation. Regular exercise is also essential in managing back pain, as it helps strengthen the muscles, stabilize the spinal column, and prevent pain.
- Physiotherapy and massage: During physiotherapy, special back exercises are performed in order to mobilize the spine, relieve tension, and strengthen the torso musculature. Massages, ultrasound therapy, or electrotherapy can help promote healing and relieve pain.
- Medication and ointments: There are certain medications and ointments that help relieve pain and inhibit inflammation, which prevents uncomfortable postural guarding. Consult a doctor before taking any medication.
- Supports and braces: Supports and braces are medical devices that mold to your body and are specifically made for treating muscle, tendon, joint and back pain. Supports for the lower back can stabilize the back and relieve strain on the lumbar spine. Firmer supports (braces) can straighten and stabilize the spine and provide more intensive support and relief from strain. These medical devices can compensate for physical restrictions by allowing increased activity and improve the quality of life.
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