Back Pain: Causes, Treatments and Back Care

Most everyone will experience some form of back pain at some point in their lives. In fact, this condition is one of the leading reasons for missed work and visits to the doctor. Back pain can vary in its severity and can be caused by a variety of factors. And since there are many different types and sources of back pain, there are also many methods of treating and preventing this condition.

Mild and Moderate Back Pain

The most commonly experienced back pain is that in the lower back. This type of pain is typically achy in nature and worsens throughout the day. And although there are sometimes serious underlying causes for lower back pain, it is most often the result of poor posture or occupational activities. The following back care tips can help relieve mild to moderate pain in the lower back:

  • Stretching
  • Ice and heat therapies
  • Over-the-counter analgesics
  • Sitting and standing up straight
  • Exercise
  • Topical creams, ointments and patches
  • Severe Back Pain

Severe back pain that persists for weeks at a time, is unresponsive to over-the-counter treatments, or accompanies other symptoms should be reported to a doctor as quickly as possible. This type of pain can be indicative of a larger problem, such as a slipped or herniated disc. The following symptoms are commonly associated with more serious conditions of the spine and back:

  • Tingling or numbness in the back, hips, arms or legs
  • Weakness
  • Occasional loss of control of the bladder or bowels
  • Twitching or other involuntary movements
  • Sharp, burning pain that radiates outward

Conditions

These symptoms can be the result of conditions like the following:

  1. Spinal Stenosis
    • Spinal stenosis is typically the result of excess bone growth that causes pain by narrowing the opening of the spinal canal.
  2. Herniated or Bulging Disc
    • Spinal discs, which are the soft cushions between the vertebrae, can rupture as a result of injury or other factors. This can cause severe pain, as well as symptoms like tingling and numbness.
  3. Tumor
    • A tumor on the spine or vertebrae can lead to intense pressure and pain, and typically requires surgical removal.

Treatments

Treatment methods for severe back pain can vary on an individual basis. However, these methods often include pain management medications, such as painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs, physical therapy and, in some cases, surgery.

Prevention

There are a number of ways to maintain proper back care and prevent damage and injury. A few of these preventative back care methods are as follows:

  1. Exercise
    • Exercise can strengthen muscles, which can take pressure off the back, hips and legs.
  2. Maintain Healthy Weight
    • Maintaining a healthy weight is a great back care tip, as it can prevent pain, pressure and injury as a result of excess weight.
  3.  Be Safe
    • Back injuries are often the result of careless mistakes. To prevent injury and undue pressure, care should be taken when exercising, lifting or performing other potentially-dangerous activities.                 

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