Chronic back pain is common. So common that many of us just grin and bear it. We write it off as old age or bad posture.
Lower back pain reveals itself in many ways. It can be a deep, dull ache in your lower back. Or it can feel like tightness and spasms in and around that area. It can also be a stinging pain or accompanied by numbness or tingling in your legs or feet. No matter how it feels for you, lower back pain hurts.
7 Facts About Chronic Back Pain
1) There are several causes…
There are several causes of back pain. Some are minor and temporary, but others show a more serious, long-term problem.Causes can include:
Muscle and ligament strain
Sacroiliac joint inflammation
If you’re unsure of the cause of your back pain, it’s important to find the right diagnosis. This will let you and your care team know which treatment will work best for you.
2) … and a lot of risk factors
While many of us can, and will, develop lower back pain, there are somerisk factors we can avoid to lessen the likelihood or severity of the disorder. These risk factors include:
Lifting objects incorrectly can cause strain on your lower back
Lack of exercise weakens the muscles in your abdomen and back
Being overweight adds extra stress to your back
Mental health issues like depression and anxiety are linked to a higher risk for lower back pain
Smoking can decrease blood flow to the spine as well as increase coughing, which strains the lower back
3) You can avoid little triggers
We can make several slight changes to ease the strain on our lower backs. They may seem like minor changes, but their benefits add up.
Use a chair with good lower back support
Arrange your monitor, keyboard, and other office equipment directly in front of you so you’re not twisting or sitting at an angle
Take a 20 second break to stand up and stretch every 10 minutes to loosen up your joints and muscles
Avoid tight clothing such as jeans that are too tight which can get in the way of moving, sitting, and bending normally
Ditch those high heels for a heel that’s an inch or less. This keeps your center of gravity where it should be and avoids your body from compensating
4) You’re not alone
TheMayo Clinic reports that within the past three months, 1 out of 4 adults have reported experiencing back pain. More than that, over 80% of us will experience lower back pain in our lives. It’s also the second most common reason people have for visiting their doctor.
That’s a lot of people struggling with pain. Suffering from lower back pain can feel isolating, so it’s worth remembering that you’re not alone. Reach out to your doctor or look for support groups in your area to find that bit of extra support from those who understand your pain.
5) Be careful of opioids
It’s all too easy to rely on medication to treat lower back pain. However, pain relief pills, especially opioids, only treat the symptom and not the cause. Opioids include oxycodone, codeine, hydrocodone, and morphine. Using and abusingopioids often leads to addiction problems and sometimes even fatal overdoses.
If you find yourself struggling to manage your opioid medications or feel that you depend on them, reach out to your doctor or other health care professional for more information and advice.
6) There are a range of treatments available
There are several treatment options available besides medications which include:
Physical therapy and conditioning exercise programs
Epidural Steroid Injections
Facet Joint Injections
Sacroiliac joint Injections
Trigger Point Injections
Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy (PRP) injections
7) SDOMG can help
At San Diego Orthobiologics Medical Group, we offer a range of treatments, including the procedures listed above. We also offer medication management and education. Our focus is on interventional pain procedures as well as medication support to help control and relieve pain. Get in touch today, using the form below:
The intervertebral discs are gel filled structures in the spine that act as cushion in between the vertebral bones. Degenerative disc disease (DDD) is a common condition that results from wear and tear of the intervertebral discs. As we age, the discs deteriorate due to repetitive stress, increased load, and decrease in blood flow and nutrition to the discs.Degenerative changes in the discs include: annular tear (tear in the outer fibrous ring of the disc), herniation or bulge, decrease in height, drying out, stiffness and bone spurs.
Symptoms of Degenerative Disc Disease
The symptoms of degenerative disc disease are dependent on the disc that is involved and changes in the surrounding spinal structures as a result of, or associated with the degeneration. The most common symptom of degenerative disc disease is a continuous deep pain in the neck, midback or low back that occasionally flares up to a more intense, disabling pain. The episodes can last for a few days or several weeks, and typically recurs. The baseline pain is variable in individuals and can range from almost no pain, nagging ache or severe pain.
The pain typically gets worse with prolonged sitting, standing and walking. Twisting and bending the spine, or carrying heavy loads can also aggravate the pain in the back. Prolonged tilting of the head down while reading or working on the computer can worsen neck pain.
The pain can refer to the buttocks and hips when the lumbar spine is involved, or to the shoulder blade region when the cervical spine is involved. When the degenerated disc compresses or irritates the nearby spinal nerves, radiating pain can be felt in the buttocks, hips, legs and feet (lumbar disc degeneration); or in the shoudler, arm and hand (cervical disc degeneration). Individuals with disc problems can also experience muscle tightness or muscle spasms.
It is not uncommon to see degenerative changes in the spinal imaging of patients over 60 years old. Majority of these patients will not present with symptoms.These imaging findings must be interpreted in the context of the patient’s clinical condition.
Treatment Options for Degenerative Disc Disease
Nonsurgical Treatments Options
Majority of patients who develop symptoms from degenerative disc disease respond well to conservative treatments without the need for surgical intervention.
Medications: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDS) decrease the symptoms of pain and inflammation associated with this condition. Analgesic medications or muscle relaxants can be helpful when the symptoms are severe. Medications to decrease nerve-related pain, called “sciatica” in the lumbar spine, can also be beneficial.
Physical Therapy: Therapeutic exercises to strengthen the supporting muscles, improve spinal alignment, flexibility and stability, are critical in healing the spine.A physical therapist can help teach proper exercises and educate on activity modifications to help prevent recurrence of symptoms and injuries.
Regenerative Treatments: These are innovative, non-surgical treatments using cells from your own body to heal and repair orthopedic conditions. These cell therapies, called Platelet-rich plasma and Cell-based Therapies derived from Bone Marrow, have been shown to help treat spinal conditions and provide long-term relief.
Surgery is an option when all conservative treatment options have failed, when there is severe, debilitating pain that interferes with daily function, or when there is worsening neurologic function. These surgeries may involve the removal of a bulging portion of the disc (discectomy), removal of a portion of the bone in the spinal canal (laminectomy), replacing the degenerated disc with an artificial disc, or spinal fusion.
For help with your back pain and degenerative disc disease, please contact the experts at San Diego Orthobiologics Medical Center.
#1 Perform Mckenzie exercises. Lay flat on your stomach with your forearms flat on the floor at shoulder height. Rise up on to your elbows so that your spine is an extension. Then lift your chin and hold for 3 minutes.
#2 Use capsaicin cream. Capsaicin is the substance found in chili peppers that makes them spicy. It is a commonly known, natural pain reliever. It has been shown to affect substance P, a neurotransmitter involved in pain transmission. To use: apply topically, at least twice per day, for maximum relief.
#3 Get some exercise. It seems counter-intuitive but the less you move the more pain you will experience. Low impact, moderate intensity exercise is the safest option. Listen to your body and avoid movements that trigger pain. Take 5-10 minutes to warm up prior to exercising. Walking will do. Always include static abdominal/ core exercises like a plank or glute bridge.
#4 Follow an Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Reducing inflammation throughout your body can have a profound effect on joint pain overall. Following an anti-inflammatory diet is the easiest way to reduce system-wide inflammation.
#5 Lose excess weight. As we gain weight, stress, and pressure on the lower spine and back muscles increases. Increased abdominal weight at the front of the body can cause an increased arch in the spine and may lead to increased stress on pain sensitive tissues. Losing weight reduces the tendency to arch the back and relieves pressure on the lower spine.
If your back pain is persistent or excruciating, you should see your personal physician urgently.
While these are some home remedies for the occasional back pain and flare-up, we do recommend seeing a physician for chronic pain, any injury or strain. This is the only way to be certain of the level of the pain and best course of action to treat it.
Please contact San Diego Orthobiologics, if you are in the Carlsbad / San Diego area, for a consultation.