Back pain is so widespread that 8 in 10 adults will suffer from back pain at some point in their lives. People who suffer from this condition will face disruptions in their personal and work life.
More than 40 million Americans suffer from back pain. Some let the condition go away on its own, others use homemade remedies, and the rest opt to seek medical attention.
If you are experiencing chronic back pain symptoms, you may want to know the best chronic pain management techniques. This article will provide important details about chronic back pain.
What Is Chronic Back Pain?
Chronic back pain refers to a feeling of discomfort in the five vertebrae that lasts for more than 12 weeks. The pain usually persists even after the underlying cause has been treated.
Chronic back pain occurs when the vertebrae move in an unnatural way. For instance, the intervertebral discs, muscles, or spines can collide or overstretch. Chronic pain can also occur if the vertebrae develop abnormal sensations or malformation.
When you get injured, your back may get sprained or strained. This can tear the muscles and ligaments in your lower back. In some instances, a traumatic injury can compress the vertebral discs or even the spine. Your vertebrae can also become inflamed if you have arthritis or other inflammatory diseases.
So, how do you know back pain is serious? You will know your back pain has become chronic if you have the following symptoms:
- There is an achy or dull pain in the lower back.
- Your feet, lower legs, thighs, and lower back become numb or have stinging pain.
- There may be spasms in the hips, pelvis, and lower back.
- You have difficulty completing simple activities, such as sitting, standing, and walking.
When these symptoms persist for a couple of weeks or days, then you are experiencing acute pain. You will only have chronic pain if your back keeps hurting for more than three months. By this time, the pain will be severe and you will have trouble sleeping.
Causes of Chronic Back Pain
Injuries are the primary cause of chronic back pain. The injury can sprain the back, pull a muscle, or damage the nerves. This pain will remain even after you have received back pain treatment. Other medical conditions that lead to chronic back pain are:
- Endometriosis: This is a disorder where the uterine wall grows abnormally.
- Fibromyalgia: This type of pain starts in the muscles and bones before spreading to the rest of the body.
- Fatigue syndrome: This condition causes extreme pain and weariness.
Chronic pain may also not be related to a physical illness or injury. Instead, the pain may be a result of stress, anxiety, or depression.
How Common Is Chronic Back Pain?
Chronic back pain is one of the most common ailments among adults. As stated earlier, approximately 80% of adults will have back pain at some point in their lives. About 10% of these back pain cases will develop into chronic back pain.
This means that 8% of all Americans are suffering from chronic back pain.
Treatments for Chronic Back Pain
So, can chronic back pain be healed? It is possible to treat most cases of chronic back pain, especially when the cause is known. While you can choose to undergo a surgical procedure, you can also try one of the following treatments.
When you first see a physician, they may recommend physical therapy. This is usually an exercise routine that is tailored to your specific condition. Some of these exercises will test your pain tolerance levels. Your therapist will also prescribe exercises that will improve your posture and physical form. If you follow your exercise routine, you will gradually increase your core strength.
Several types of medications can treat chronic pain, although some have side effects. The recommended medication will depend on your overall health and pain level. Since drug interactions can lead to severe side effects, your doctor should know all the supplements that you are taking.
The most common medications are COX-2 inhibitors, such as Meloxicam. In some instances, the doctor may recommend temporary opioid therapy.
If the physician can pinpoint the cause of the chronic pain, they may prescribe an injection. Steroid injections, such as nerve blocks and nerve ablations, may also help to rule out suspected causes of pain. Your physician will inject the medication into the area surrounding the spinal cord. Since the medication must end up in the right area, the physician will guide the needle with the help of an X-ray machine.
Radio Frequency Ablation (RFA)
Nerve tissues can stop sending pain signals to the brain if their temperature increases. One of the ways to increase the temperature of the back tissue is to use an electric current from radiofrequency ablation.
The process starts with injecting intravenous medication and numbing a small section of your skin. The physician will then use a microelectrode to send an electric current to the affected tissue. Once the process is complete, you can expect the treatment to be effective for at least six months.
Other Back Pain Management Techniques
There are also back pain management techniques, such as:
- Acupuncture: This is the insertion of thin needles at specific parts of the body.
- Chiropractic care: This is the improvement of joint motion by the use of controlled force.
- Yoga: Upper back pain can go away after doing yoga for an extended period.
- Massage therapy: This can increase endorphin levels and reduce chronic pain.
If your back has been hurting for more than three months, you may be suffering from chronic back pain. Several factors, such as injuries, can cause this condition. Fortunately, there are several treatments for chronic back pain, including physical therapy and injections.
You can also visit our medical center to try a new treatment for back pain. Contact us for more information.