Almost everyone experiences back pain at some point in their lives. For many, the pain is acute — which means it lasts six weeks or less. For some, back pain becomes chronic. Either way, back pain is uncomfortable and can disrupt your life in numerous ways.
At Apex Medical Center, our staff of highly qualified experts specialize in helping people manage their pain, and that means we see many patients who have back pain. Discover three of the most common reasons for back pain, as well as what you can do to find some relief.
1. Strains and sprains
If your back hurts, there’s a very good chance it’s because you’ve strained a muscle or tendon, or you’ve sprained a ligament. When your muscles stretch too far, the fibers tear and you have a strain. Your tendons connect muscles to bones and also may be over-stretched.
The tissue that connects your bones are called ligaments, and they can be stretched too far and tear as well. That’s called a sprain.
Either way the result is the same: pain.
Lifting something that is too heavy, using poor lifting technique, sudden movements that stress the structures of your back, long-term bad posture, poor ergonomics, and sports injuries are all common causes of strains and sprains.
The vast majority of sprains and strains cause acute pain, but it can be quite intense. Sprains and strains can cause muscle spasms, swelling, and inflammation. Depending on your situation, you may need to take over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to ease the pain and swelling. If NSAIDs aren’t an option, you may want to try a topical pain reliever.
One of the worst things you can do is remain in bed for too long. After the initial 24 - 48 hours, you should attempt to resume your normal activities to the extent possible. If a particular action causes pain, stop doing it, but don’t avoid activities because you think it will hurt.
Most of the time, the pain of a sprain or strain resolves within two weeks to a month. If yours persists, you should seek care. You may need a more intensive treatment, physical therapy, or some combination.
2. Disc issues
Your spine is complex and important. It’s made up of vertebrae, separated by small cushions called discs. It protects your spinal canal, which houses important nerves.
The discs between your vertebrae are vulnerable to several types of injuries. Each disc is tough cartilage, and the center is filled with a jelly-like substance. When the jelly-like center bulges against the tough, outer portion, you have a bulging or herniated disc. Since your spine is filled with sensitive nerves, the disc may press against a nerve and cause terrible pain.
As you age, your discs naturally lose hydration and become more worn. The combination of lack of hydration and wear and tear can lead to weakening and make bulging or herniated discs more likely. Degenerative disc disease is the name given to this condition.
Largely, disc issues should be treated similarly to strains and sprains. However, if you continue to have pain, you may need injections, stronger pain relievers, physical therapy, or surgery.
3. Joint problems
Each juncture of vertebrae and disc is a joint. Your spine is really an amazing structure, made up of bones and discs, nerves, and it’s supported by tendons and muscles. If you have any other problem, such as a bulging disc or an inflamed muscle, it’s not unusual to develop a problem with a joint.
Just as all of the other joints in your body, those in your spine are susceptible to arthritis. The joint that connects your spine to your pelvis is your sacroiliac joint, and it provides shock absorption between your upper and lower body. Too much movement, or too little, can cause pain, and so can inflammation.
The most appropriate treatment for back pain caused by joint issue depends on the underlying cause of the problem. If you have arthritis, common treatments include injections, physical therapy, and sometimes surgery.
If you’re experiencing back pain, and home remedies aren’t providing relief, book an appointment at Apex Medical Center. We can help determine the cause of your pain and suggest treatments that may help. We have three locations for your convenience, and scheduling is easy.