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Back Pain

Back Pain

If you've ever groaned, "Oh, my aching back!", you are not alone. Back pain is one of the most common medical problems, affecting 8 out of 10 people at some point during their lives. Back pain can range from a dull, constant ache to a sudden, sharp pain. Acute back pain comes on suddenly and usually lasts from a few days to a few weeks. Back pain is called chronic if it lasts for more than three months.

Spinal vertebrae are held together by muscles, tendons and ligaments. Between the vertebrae are discs, which act as "shock absorbers" and prevent the vertebrae from hitting one another when you walk, run or jump. They also allow your spine to twist, bend and extend. Since the lower back is the hinge between the upper and lower body and carries most of your weight, it is especially vulnerable to injury and is the site of most reported back pain. When lower back pain strikes, we become acutely aware of just how much we rely on a flexible, strong back.

Back Pain Facts & Statistics

Although chiropractors care for more than just back pain, many patients visit chiropractors looking for relief from this pervasive condition.  In fact, 31 million Americans experience low-back pain at any given time.

A few interesting facts about back pain:

  • Low back pain is the single leading cause of disability worldwide, according to the Global Burden of Disease 2010.
  • One-half of all working Americans admit to having back pain symptoms each year.
  • Back pain is one of the most common reasons for missed work.  In fact, back pain is the second most common reason for visits to the doctor’s office, outnumbered only by upper-respiratory infections.
  • Most cases of back pain are mechanical or non-organic—meaning they are not caused by serious conditions, such as inflammatory arthritis, infection, fracture or cancer.
  • Americans spend at least $50 billion each year on back pain—and that’s just for the more easily identified costs.
  • Experts estimate that as many as 80% of the population will experience a back problem at some time in our lives.

What Causes Back Pain?

The back is a complicated structure of bones, joints, ligaments and muscles. You can sprain ligaments, strain muscles, rupture disks, and irritate joints, all of which can lead to back pain. While sports injuries or accidents can cause back pain, sometimes the simplest of movements—for example, picking up a pencil from the floor— can have painful results. In addition, arthritis, poor posture, obesity, and psychological stress can cause or complicate back pain. Back pain can also directly result from disease of the internal organs, such as kidney stones, kidney infections, blood clots, or bone loss.

A patient information article published recently in the Journal of the American Medical Association also suggested chiropractic care as an option for people suffering from low back pain--and noted that surgery is usually not needed and should only be tried if other therapies fail.

Most cases of back pain are mechanical or non-organic—meaning they are not caused by serious conditions, such as inflammatory arthritis, infection, fracture or cancer.

The chiropractic approach is to find the cause of the pain and treat it directly. This may involverealigning the spine or extremities by chiropractic adjustments, physiotherapy for the muscles and ligaments, rehabilitative exercises, or a combination of these. Sometimes the doctor of chiropractic will suggest exercises or activities to prevent a reoccurrence of the problem. This may provide a long term solution to the condition through prevention.

Tips to Prevent Back Pain

Some back pain is caused by non-preventable factors (traumatic accidents, congenital defects,tumors), but the majority of low back pain is preventable. Suggestions on how you can prevent back pain include:

  • Maintain a healthy diet and weight.
  • Remain active.
  • Avoid prolonged inactivity or bed rest.
  • Warm up or stretch before exercising or other physical activities.
  • Maintain proper posture.
  • Wear comfortable, low-heeled shoes.
  • Sleep on a mattress of medium firmness to minimize any curve in your spine.
  • Lift with your knees, keep the object close to your body, and do not twist when lifting.
  • Quit smoking. Smoking impairs blood flow, resulting in oxygen and nutrient deprivation to spinal tissues.
  • Work with your doctor of chiropractic to ensure that your workstation is ergonomically correct.

“I was T-boned by a car that ran a red light. Within two weeks I could barely walk. I had problems sleeping and unable to work my job. I had trouble concentrating and tolerating my children. I saw Dr. Woods and within a short amount of time my back pain had greatly decreased. I was able to work full days again shortly after seeking treatment. I was also able to interact with my children more. Dr. Woods is a miracle worker.”

Susan P.