9 Types of Back Pain — Causes and Treatments
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Does the thought of bending down to tie your shoes give you the screaming horrors? Back pain is no joke. It results in countless sick days each year and is one of the leading causes of disability.
If this curse plagues you, unearthing the underlying cause can help you find the correct treatment. What are the nine most common causes of back pain? Consider your risk factors for the following conditions.
1. Muscle and Ligament Strains
Muscle and ligament strains can result in an aching back, even if you don’t consider yourself an athlete. That’s because repetitive strain injuries can arise from improper posture during the activities you perform each day. If your monitor sits so far on your desk that you lean forward to see, this motion can stress your lower back. Additionally, cold temperatures and vibrating equipment can increase distress — maybe ask your boss about moving your desk away from the air conditioning vent?
Fortunately, these injuries heal if you treat them correctly. Follow the acronym R.I.C.E, which stands for rest, ice, compression and elevation. Use an ergonomic chair to keep your spine in alignment. A supportive brace can help, as can lying on the floor with an ice pack to ease the ache.
Your bones are living tissue, and they continually replace cells like our skin does. Unfortunately, as we age, the rate of bone loss can exceed new growth, resulting in osteoporosis. When this deficit occurs in your spine, you get the signature shrinkage you may remember from your grandparents. The condition can also cause pain.
To diagnose osteoporosis, you will need to see your doctor. Fortunately, treatments exist that can slow the progression of the disease. If you are younger and know the disease runs in your family, eat foods rich in calcium and perform weight-bearing exercises most days per week to decrease your risk.
3. Ankylosing Spondylitis
Ankylosing spondylitis is a type of inflammatory disease impacting the spine and causing arthritis-like symptoms. It causes you to bend forward, and when it is severe, it can make breathing problematic. While there is no cure, treatment with biologic medications can slow the disease’s progression and ease symptoms.
Even though the FDA approved the drug Lyrica to treat fibromyalgia in 2007, some doctors still question the disorder’s validity. This widespread pain condition is real, and it can cause considerable distress. Those who have it often have trigger points in their mid-spine — right around the bra line, for females — and it can cause agony that doesn’t appear on a CT scan or MRI.
Currently, no cure exists for fibro, but you can treat it with medications and holistic therapies. Many sufferers indicate that yoga works wonders, and OTC anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen provide some relief.
5. Degenerative Disk Disease
Does your back pain grow more severe when you sit or stand upright in one position for an extended period? If so, suspect degenerative disk disease. Fortunately, due to an effect called the degenerative cascade, your pain often decreases over time. This condition also responds very well to holistic therapies, such as yoga, acupuncture and weight loss.
You do risk developing scoliosis if your discs degenerate in a way that causes your spine to form an unnatural curve. Work on improving your posture, and try to avoid activities that require you to remain stationary.
6. Spinal Stenosis
This painful condition results when the spinal column tightens and begins compressing the nerves of the cord. It can result from age as discs degenerate or arise from genetic factors or rare diseases. The symptoms include shooting pain, as well as numbness and weakness in your legs. In severe cases, it may cause balance challenges.
If you have spinal stenosis, you may need surgical intervention. Fortunately, modern laser techniques can make such procedures minimally invasive in some cases. If you lack access to care, you can get some relief from acupuncture, massage and ice.
7. Bulging or Ruptured Disks
Your spinal column consists of a series of interconnected discs. When one of these becomes broken or damaged, it can put pressure on your cord. In rare cases, it can lead to permanent disability. Seek immediate emergency care if you develop trouble controlling your bladder or moving your lower extremities after a back injury. Tests can confirm the problem, and you may need surgery to correct it.
8. Kidney Problems
Your kidneys are located higher up than many people suspect, and if you have an infection, back pain may be your first clue. Women who have frequent infections can sometimes have bacteria move up the urethra to impact these organs. A blood test can reveal disease, and early treatment can prevent permanent damage. Please see your doctor if you suspect this issue.
9. Retroverted Uterus
Does your back pain only occur when the cardinal flies in to visit? If so, you may have a retroverted uterus. While this condition is not dangerous and shouldn’t affect your fertility, it can result in pain during sex, especially in some positions. It also frequently strikes women prone to fibroids or endometriosis, which can impact the ability to get pregnant. Fortunately, you can find out if this causes your recurrent pain by making a trip to your gynecologist for a pelvic exam.
Find the Cause of Your Back Pain to Get the Treatment You Need
Back pain can make life a misery, but you can often find a cure. The first step in finding the right treatment is identifying the cause of your distress.