Back Pain FAQ
The sudden onset of back pain often leaves patients with all types of questions. Why is this happening? What does it mean, and what can I do to stop it? At ChiroCare of Florida, our number one priority is soothing your concerns and helping you achieve safe, effective back pain relief, naturally.
Continue reading to learn more about some of the most frequently asked questions about back pain, and how our chiropractors treat it.
Back pain is actually one of the most common medical problems in the United States, as well as across the globe. In the U.S., approximately 31 million Americans will experience low back pain at any given time. Worldwide, back pain is the single leading cause of disability, with 80% of the entire population experiencing back pain in their lifetime.
Ranging from a dull, constant ache to jolting, stabbing pain that comes and goes, back pain can take many forms that affects people of all walks of life. In fact, in the U.S., back pain accounted for more than 264 million missed work days in one single year - a total of two work days for every full-time worker in the country. If you're suffering back pain, you are not alone.
Symptoms of back pain vary extremely depending on the area of the spine where pain is located, as well as what the underlying cause of pain is. Generally speaking, symptoms of back pain include:
- Muscle spasms
- Joint dysfunction
- Muscle weakness
- Dull, aching sensation
- Decreased range of motion
- Aching or stiffness along the spine
- Numbness in the lower extremities
- Leg numbness or "pins and needles"
- Inability to stand straight without pain
- Difficulty standing for long periods of time
- Stabbing or shooting pain that can radiate down the leg
The back is comprised of many structures, most of which are pain-sensitive. The spine is composed of small bones called vertebrae, which are separated by spinal discs and connected by facet joints. All of this is surrounded by a network of nerves, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and connective tissue. When any of these structures are damaged or impinged, pain can result.
When it comes to classifying back pain, the spine is typically segmented into three separate sections: the cervical spine, the thoracic spine, and the lumbar spine. The cervical spine runs from the base of the skull down to the shoulders, and is usually the site of neck and shoulder pain. The thoracic spine runs from the top of the ribs down to the middle of the back. The lumbar spine, known as the lower back, runs from the bottom of the ribs to the sacrum, just above the hips, and can also affect the legs.
Back pain can be caused by a variety of damages to the spinal structures. Whether through chronic pain conditions or a traumatic injury, when any of the pain-sensitive structures of the back are damaged or swollen, the resulting localized pain or impinged nerve roots will cause back pain.
Chronic conditions which can cause acute to chronic back pain include:
- Spinal stenosis
- Facet joint syndrome
- Kyphosis (rounded back)
- Spinal tumors (chordoma)
- Degenerative disc disease
- Sacroiliac joint dysfunction
- Scoliosis (curvature of the spine)
On the other hand, trauma from repeated motions at work, a fall, or a car crash can result in pain-causing injuries such as:
- Bulging discs
- Herniated discs
- Sprains and strains
- Soft tissue bruising
- Spinal compression
If you're unsure what your back pain means, read more here.
The underlying source of your back pain will ultimately decide why and where certain areas of your back hurt more than others. However, generally speaking, the more mobile areas of the spine carry more pressure, making them more susceptible to pain. For humans, this is the cervical spine and the lumbar spine.
The cervical spine, the neck, carries the weight of the skull, which can be as heavy as a bowling ball. Learn more about cervical pain symptoms, and what causes them, here.
The lumbar spine, the lower back, is where we place most of our stress and our weight. Poor posture, improperly lifting, or activity, weight fluctuations, and emotional stressors can all irritate or misalign the structures of the lower back. In fact, lower back pain is the most common form of back pain.
In comparison, the thoracic spine located in the mid-back tends to suffer less. Due to it's limited mobility within the body, it is least likely to be injured.
Back pain is diagnosed through a cumulative assessment of a physical examination, medical image testing, and medical history report. At ChiroCare of Florida, our physicians begin with a face-to-face chat during which you can describe in your own words what symptoms you're feeling.
Then, medical image testing tests, such as x-rays or an MRI, are used to get a detailed image of the spine and its surrounding structures so that an injury can be identified. By also analyzing your medical history, our physicians can come to a concrete conclusion about what your back pain means and how it can best be treated.
A chiropractic adjustment is a technique in which a physician applies pressure to the vertebrae of the spine. Using a short, swift lever arm thrust to the specified vertebra, the targeted motion used by the chiropractor reduces the misalignment of the bone, replacing it in its respective place along the spine. This process increases range of motion, improves function, reduces nerve irritability, and alleviates inflammation.
Chiropractic adjustments are effective in helping back pain so that it can heal itself and improve its strength, without the addition of harmful drugs or surgery. Adjustments aid in posture and range of mobility, as well as assist in the decompression of the spine. Also, the restoration of nerve flow can reduce pain signals which are being sent to the brain.
Using chiropractic adjustments and other various techniques, a chiropractor can alleviate acute and chronic back pain conditions. At ChiroCare of Florida, our 11 offices offer a variety of noninvasive, natural remedies which effectively alleviate inflammation, improve range of motion, and aid the healing process.
Trusted options available at ChiroCare of Florida include:
At ChiroCare of Florida, we have seen firsthand how back surgery can fail to remove the source of pain, and instead create further, much more serious problems. Instead, we choose to use noninvasive methods to safely and effectively remove any blockages or inflammation present in the back so that the body can fight to repair itself on its own. Back surgery is always a last option that should be avoided unless in the case of a serious medical emergency, such as a tumor.
Just like surgery, medication should be a last ditch effort for your back pain. Medication contains many harmful chemical compounds which often carry subsequent side effects that can cause harm. Likewise, the point of medication for back pain is never to cure the problem - its simply to mask the symptoms. Medication will not cure back pain, but only make you numb to it.
With a rise in opioid use and overdose, the use of prescription pain medication is not only dangerous, but it also leaves those earnestly seeking relief from back pain at risk. Once medication fails to mask pain symptoms, doses are often increased. When that fails to work, what is next?
At ChiroCare of Florida, we've seen the harmful effects prescription pain medication has had on the South Florida community. We are passionate about providing an all-natural, effective, and healthy pain solution that can remove dependency on medication.
The spine is a crucial component of the body. When back pain strikes, it is wise to err on the side of caution and visit a doctor if pain symptoms persist for longer than two weeks, or you could risk chronic discomfort, loss of motion, or even loss of sensation.
Pain that is accompanied by numbness, weakness, or aches in the arm should be checked as soon as possible. If you begin experiencing incontinence issues, call your doctor immediately.
The key to controlling back pain is by maintaining proper spinal alignment. When the structures of the spine are out of alignment, they impinge on the space needed for other components within the spinal column. In other words, each structure has its respective place - when that is compromised, not only does the incorrect placement cause swelling, irritability and pain at the site of subluxation, but nerve flow is also interrupted. This can confuse both pain signals and nerve signals necessary to complete daily functions.
Proper spinal alignment allows the structures of the back to work together in harmony, allowing the body to fight pain naturally. Likewise, a healthy diet, fitness and stretching, and routine preventive care and wellness management program helps to keep pain in check.
While chronic pain conditions such as arthritis or scoliosis cannot be reversed or eliminated, it is possible to manage pain to also live a more comfortable lifestyle through chiropractic care. If you’re unsure what your back pain means or how to effectively treat it, contact ChiroCare of Florida today.