Back pain is one of the most common ailments in the world and will affect a shocking 90% of Americans at one point in their life.
Back pain can come from irritated nerves, strained back muscles, injured bones or ligaments and the pain can range from mild to severe.
Why is back pain so common?
The spine is prone to injury simply because it’s continually subject to forces like twisting, sudden jolts and poor posture and all of these contributing factors can lead to back pain.
Before beginning diagnoses, your physician will ask you to describe your back pain, and your description will most likely fall under one of three classifications.
1) Axial pain: known as mechanical pain, this is the most common type of back pain. With descriptions of all types, axial pain can fall anywhere from sharp to dull and constant to sporadic. Muscle strain is a type of axial pain.
2) Referred pain: dull and achy, referred pain often moves around and will vary in intensity. Injury to any of the sensory nerves in the lower back can case referred pain.
3) Radicular pain: deep and radiating, this type of pain can also come with numbness or weakness and is caused by compression, inflammation or injury to a spinal root nerve. Another term for this is sciatica.
Most back pain (like muscular strains) will be relatively short lived and will heal anywhere from two weeks to three months depending on the severity of the condition.
But if your back or leg pain endures after three months, the problem may be more severe and should be discussed with your local physician.
How do we get back pain?
There are numerous ways people get back pain and luckily, many of them are preventable.
Forgetting to stretch
Many of us don’t bother to stretch and warm up before physical activity and as a result, we injure our backs. Always take the time to properly prepare your body for vigorous activity (especially if you don’t exercise on a regular basis) and don’t forget to stretch out your muscles afterwards as well.
Working around the home
Every day we perform menial tasks around the house and yard without thinking about what it might be doing to our bodies. Picking up heavy objects and bending over in the garden can put stress on our backs and can often lead to injury.
So to keep accidents from happening, exercise on a regular basis and work to strengthen your core muscles that will in turn, strengthen your back.
Lift with your legs
Always be careful when you lift heavy objects and lift with your legs, not your back. Engage your abs, don’t bend at the waist and never attempt to lift something that weights more than 20% of your own body weight.
Take a break from sitting
Many of us sit hunched over our computers for a large portion of the day and ultimately, our backs can pay the price.
And while our jobs won’t allow us to stop sitting all together, there are things we can do to improve the situation.
- Get up and move every 20 minutes to increase blood flow to the discs in your back
- Keep good posture and try not to hunch over
- Select a chair with good back support and sit with your feet flat on the ground
How to treat back pain
In most cases, back pain is relieved with rest, prescribed physical therapy and anti-inflammatory medication, but facet joint injections can also be used along with these treatments.
While facet joint injections can’t cure back pain, they will work to reduce the amount of pain experienced and can potentially provide patients suffering from intense back pain with some much needed relief.