Back pain can be caused by physical or psychological factors. Determining the cause of your back pain will aid in its treatment and prevention of future occurrences.
Common causes and treatment of back pain
- Physical injury to the back muscles
Strained muscles are a frequent source of short-term back pain. This often occurs from bending and twisting at the waist, or lifting objects by bending over and then straightening the back.
Treatment usually requires a few days rest, along with anti-inflammatory painkillers such as aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen. Heat may be applied in twenty minute intervals at the site of the pain. When possible, begin moderate activity such as walking to avoid stiffness and hasten recovery.
Prevention of back strain requires a two-pronged approach. When bending at the waist, even to pick up a piece of paper, place a hand on one knee. This relieves strain on back muscles. When lifting requires both hands, the legs should be used, not the back. Never twist at the waist while lifting, and always turn your feet first when turning while moving a heavy object.
The other aspect of prevention is core fitness. Keeping the abdominal and back muscles in shape will also help to prevent back strain. Maintaining a healthy weight is also essential in avoiding back injuries.
- Herniated discs
Your spinal vertebrae are separated by flexible discs that allow fluidity of movement in the spine. These discs are normally malleable and filled with a gel that allows them to bend and flex. Aging, and in some cases genetic predisposition, will sometimes cause a disc's outer casing to become dry and brittle. This causes the disc to break open and the gel to seep out, irritating the spinal fluid.
Treatment is usually the same as for muscle strains. In rare cases, surgery may be required to remove the offending gel or even the entire disc. Removing a disc requires that two vertebrae be fused together, and is only done as a last resort.
Since aging or genetic inheritance can't be prevented, it is important to keep the core muscles that support the spine strong. Chiropractic treatment through Beltline Chiropractic may also help, because it keeps the spine in proper alignment.
- Psychological issues
Stress and other psychological issues can cause back pain. Stress causes muscles to tighten and increases the chances of injuries. Other psychological problems may manifest themselves in physical pain, especially mental conflicts that seek resolution.
When the cause of spontaneous or ongoing back pain cannot be determined to be of a physical nature, the stress level and mental health of the sufferer should be considered. Pain or anxiety medication may be needed to treat the immediate back pain, followed by psychological counseling to try to determine its cause and to prevent future episodes.