The pounding in the lower back, the dull throbbing ache shooting up the spine, the bolts of fire like pain rushing down first one leg and then another are some of the common conditions with professional athletes. Chronic back pain has been described in many different ways, but each one is just as painful as any other.
Back pain can strike adults at any given point in life, there is no definite stage of life when a person can deem himself immune. For the majority of people and that can be a staggering 90 percent of the adult population; back pain arrives, anti-inflammatory medication is prescribed by the doctor is administered and within approximately seven to ten weeks, the pain is gone. The answer is really quite simple – the body has the ability to heal itself and it does. People get back into their routines and life goes on as normal. However, for approximately 10 percent of the people suffering with back pain, it is pain with a difference. The pain simply does not go away – it is a chronic condition.
According to various reports, America seems to be in the grip of a chronic back pain epidemic. The chances are as high as 80 percent that at some point in life, the back pain horror will strike. In the U.S., the cost to treat back pain is 26 billion dollars and counting.
Discussions of any kind on pain are not really the happiest subject for anyone. However, given the statistics, it is necessary to get a better grasp of pain and in particular chronic back pain. Pain is the body’s instant and automatic reaction to signals sent out from the source of the pain. For example, a sore back sends out signals of pain from the nerves of the spinal cord all the way into the brain to be perceived as pain.
Pain is said to be either neuropathic or nociceptive and understanding what these tongue twisters mean are essential because there are different types of pain treatments for each type of pain. Neuropathic refers to pain caused by damaged nerve tissues and is generally characterized by a pain synonymous with stabbing or burning. Nociceptive pain is that caused by a disease or an injury and has very little to do with the nervous system. Arthritis pain is nociceptive because it is an ongoing pressure or ache, and not a sharp traumatic pain.
Using back pain as an example let us move on to an examination of acute versus chronic pain. Acute back pain is generally described as pain in the lower back. The pain is usually sharp and tends to be more severe in a particular area; for example, on the left side or center of the back. Acute pain is typically constant, but may at times be intermittent, ranging in severity. It generally clears up within ten weeks at the most, regardless of how severe the pain may be.
Patients describe chronic back pain as a deep burning pain or dull, aching pain in one part of the back. The pain does not remain in one area, but travels down to the legs. Other symptoms of chronic pain may include numbness, pins-and-needles and tingling of the legs. Chronic back pain often renders simple routine tasks almost impossible to do for the patient. This type of pain generally lasts a long time and may have resulted from some kind of previous injury. Chronic back pain is acute agony and may quite possibly become a lifelong burden for the sufferer.
Tips for Healing a Chronic Bad Back
• According to the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center well known for providing world class quality care, there are different medical methods to relieve and possibly heal a chronic bad back. Patients suffering with back pain are generally given various pain relievers such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, aspirin or acetaminophen. Often, if the pain persists, further specific treatment is given that is directed at the cause of the pain. Mechanical back supports are used after back surgery, which is often the last resort when other forms of treatment fail. Physical and occupational therapy are an important part of the overall treatment plan.
• The most important step towards healing a chronic bad back lies in identifying the cause of the problem. All too often physicians find it easier to treat the symptoms rather than finding the cause and treating the root of the problem. The cause of chronic back problems could stem from the simple reason that the chair used for 12 hours a day. This is an absolute incorrect notion. Of course at the more complex end, tightening of the muscles or weakening of the joints could well be the problem.
• Making use of stretch exercises to relax tight muscles is a commonly misused or seldom used method. Through fear, people tend to avoid exercise, but there are certain specific stretch exercises that can help make an enormous difference to those tight muscles in the body. A couple of minutes may be all it takes to remove muscle tension and relieve the back pain. Professional physical therapists can prescribe the exercises, and the stretches may be combined with certain forms of physical activity to heal a bad back.
• Re-aligning the spine and balancing the pelvis – now how many people think of that? Needless to say, any kind of exercise and spine realignment needs to be done under the watchful eye of a professional physical therapist.
• Muscles that become weak very often lead to back problems. A certain amount of exercise is necessary as part of the daily routine to strengthen weak muscles. Obesity is very often the cause of chronic back problems. Therefore, a diet change may be all that is needed to heal a chronic bad back.
• Acupuncture is an ancient form of Chinese alternative medicine used to treat a variety of health ailments. Studies show that acupuncture over a period of time does relieve chronic back pain, but there are no definite indicators that it can cure the problem completely. Acupuncture is the insertion of fine needles into various pressure points on the body to relieve pain. According to the Chinese, pain is the result of blocked energy or Qi. The insertion of needles helps to unblock this energy, thereby restoring the natural balance of the body.
• Vitamin D deficiency may also be the cause of recurring back pain. The vitamin is found in sunlight, cereal, milk and fish. This is not to say people in pain should self-medicate; there are side effects to taking too much vitamin D.
• Bowen therapy was developed by an Australian osteopath and involves a kind of gentle bodywork. Tom Bowen identified a series of special moves that therapists made using thumbs and fingers. In simpler terms, therapists used thumbs and fingers to pull slack skin away from muscles, applied pressure and quickly released tension. The special moves cause nerve impulses to be sent to the brain, result in relaxation of tight muscles, leading to pain relief.
• The human body is made up various minerals, of which, magnesium is the fourth most abundant. Magnesium plays an important role in maintaining normal nerve and muscle function. It is also necessary for maintain regular heartbeat, a healthy immune system and strong bones. One German study specifically focused on providing increased magnesium levels to patients with chronic back pain. There was a serious reduction in the pain levels in approximately 90 percent of the subjects that were put under study.
• Another method often used to cure chronic back problems is chiropractic. In fact, the majority of patients that consult a chiropractor do so for back pain. Chiropractic is the use of manually applied and controlled force to joints to restore mobility. Joints may become restricted due to injury, inflammation, pain or otherwise benefit from the manipulation that relieves muscle tightness and enhances healing.
• Stress is the cause of many health problems in the modern society, as people do live in a world of rush and worry. Chronic bad back problems frequently occur due to excessively high levels of stress endured by the person. In such cases, learning to handle stress is half the battle with the back problem. Managing stress can be done in various ways such as breathing exercises, muscle relaxing exercises and listening to soft music. Activities like walking, gardening and swimming have proven to help relieve stress and in turn the pain. People undergoing stress should avoid extremely strenuous activities such as tennis because it only enhances the stress and in turn pain.
• Balneotherapy is an ancient therapeutic form of pain relief and healing; it is a type of hydrotherapy that involves taking a bath in mineral water. One study made a comparison of people with back that bathed in mineral water as opposed to tap water. Mineral water with sulphur proved to relieve the back pain considerably. Another study suggested that balneotherapy and spa therapy were both effective in helping to relieve chronic back problems. Balneotherapy is not recommended for people with heart conditions.
• Chronic back pain can be relieved through the use of specific breathing techniques that use the mind and body connection. The techniques work to integrate breathing, movement, body awareness and meditation. Breathing techniques to heal chronic bad back problems is a free method for finding relief from the pain. Breath therapy is also a relatively safe method of relieving pain as studies have shown in the past.
• Simple massage therapy can help to relieve and in some cases cure chronic back pain. Massages help to reduce stress and depression and with the reduction of stress, back problems often get cleared up as well. Massage therapy needs to be combined with a healthy lifestyle to avoid falling into depression or getting stressed out all over again.
Chronic back pain sadly is one of the most misunderstood of all medical conditions, even today with all the technology at hand. Causes may be physical or psychosomatic, but unlike most any other pain, the symptoms seldom ever go away. In other words, chronic back pain may last for months, years or an entire lifetime.
The general consensus is that back pain is caused by spinal deformities, injury or muscle strain. Back pain may also be brought on by rheumatic illness. The pain can begin at any point on the back beginning at the lower spine, all the way up to the neck. Pain can radiate from a particular spot, be localised or widespread. However, when it lasts longer than six months it falls into the category of chronic back pain.
Muscle strain, spinal stenosis, osteoporosis, tumor or herniated disc among other things – the first step to getting healed is to identify the cause. There are numerous treatment options available today from no-cost breathing techniques to expensive medical surgeries. For some patients the application of willow bark works, for others it may be Bowen therapy. The type of treatment chosen will depend on specific patient needs. Seeking professional medical help is the best way to find a cure for chronic back problems.
It is often difficult to identify the exact reason for the pain because back pain can originate in the spinal discs, nerves, bone or tissue. Various diseases such as fractures, spondylitis and spinal osteoarthritis can cause a chronic bad back. Most of these diseases generally attack the elderly, but disease is no respecter of persons.
People suffering from chronic back pain live in either constant pain or fear of throwing the back out. Life generally becomes one long struggle of avoidance – of doing the many natural things people do in daily life. However, there are those who refuse to give up and want to find relief that allows the living of an at least normal life.