In America, back pain and sciatica are among the most common complaints of pain. Millions of people each year, up to almost 80% of people, experience back pain in some form. Whether it is acute or chronic, most people at some point in their lives will struggle with back pain.
Understanding the causes of it, and finding ways to help you either fully recover or improve your situation, is vital. If you are wondering how you can treat your back injury or general back pain, we have assembled some common questions for you in order to help you find the relief you need
Back Pain and Mobility
- Why does my back hurt?
While regular aches and pains are simply a part of life as your body ages, it can get beyond tolerable. Especially if you're older and have been working for many years on your feet, you may come to find that your back aches and never seems to improve. That's because the spine defies gravity, and over time, it can begin to break down.
Your spine functions to support your entire body, while also providing a channel for your limbs to communicate with your brain through the nervous system. Because the body functions as a homogenous machine, you may come to find that when one part of it is not functioning properly, it begins to affect other areas.
Low back pain, in particular, is a symptom many people experience. That's because your lower back endures a great amount of stress on a regular basis. For example, if you pick something up and bend over at the waist instead of at the knees, you could easily hurt your back due to the excessive amount of strain. This one-time injury could cause you acute pain.
For athletes, putting your body through the stress of training and competing can result in injuries. Whether you play football or are a gymnast, you put a lot of stress and strain on your back. AS a result, you become more susceptible to injuries.
For others as we age, our lower spines begin to deteriorate slowly, which causes stenosis - a condition that everyone experiences. Everybody has it, but it can be worse for some people, and even inhibit your daily life.
- What is stenosis?
Spinal stenosis is a condition in which the nerves of the lower back become compressed. This occurs in the lumbar region of your spine, which is the area right around your waist and above your buttocks. Five vertebrae are located in this area of your spine. As the spinal canal begins to narrow, it puts pressure on your nerves and can cause numbness, tingling, and pain.
This pain can be mistaken as sciatica pain, but needs to be diagnosed distinctly. It's important to note that stenosis can cause sciatica pain, but sciatica pain on its own is not necessarily an indicator of stenosis.
Lumbar spinal stenosis is a very common problem. This is because as we age, our spine naturally begins to weaken and cause issues. However, for some people, this weakening can lead to severe stenosis that can actually inhibit your movement.
If you have a herniated disc, bulging disc, or anything of the like you are going to experience discomfort. And regardless of what type of injury you have sustained it's important to seek medical attention in order to properly diagnose your pain.
- Why is my mobility affected?
Suffering from back pain, especially if it's due to nerve weakness, can affect your movement. If you suffer from numbness, it can make walking a very difficult task because you become unsure of your footing. As a result, you have higher chances of falling and possibly getting injured. Of course, experiencing severe pain in the back or legs might simply make walking very painful, so you might begin to avoid moving in order to avoid the pain.
- What can I do?
If you are suffering from back pain or sciatica, it's important to seek help. Especially if you are having mobility and balance issues, you should get help in order to prevent further injury.
If you are looking for more immediate relief, you have a number of alternatives to consider. Of course, pain pills can reduce pain by making your brain believe that the area doesn't hurt instead of healing it. That eases discomfort, but doesn't improve the long-term situation.
One alternative is physical therapy, which can help to not only provide relief, but also helps strengthen your body and reduce or eliminate the actual pain.
- How does physical therapy work?
Physical therapy helps to treat pain through methods like heat, massage, stretching, and exercises. As a result, it can help to reduce or eliminate your pain without the use of medication or the need for surgery.
In many cases, especially concerning your back, physical therapy can help to make your back feel better and teach you the proper ways to bend, pick up things, and maneuver around in order to avoid further damage. A physical therapist will evaluate your problems, and then determine a course of action that will help to make you feel better. Each plan is tailored to you specifically and with your best interest in mind. Thus, you can rest assured knowing your back will benefit from it.
Each method used is designed to help you recover. For example, if you are having back pain, strengthening your core is one way to help alleviate your pain. Because your body should function as a single organism, strengthening your core or abdomen provides additional support for your spine. Another method may be designed to teach you various stretching techniques, which can and will help to reduce pressure on your sciatic nerve and reduce your discomfort as a result.
- What can I do after therapy?
Physical therapy is a great way to help get your back pain under control, and to help resolve the problem completely. But if you've injured your back once, it's important to understand how to avoid injury and to find other ways to protect yourself as well.
Back braces and supports are great way to help to protect your back. Especially if you hurt your back while working, and you do a great deal of bending and lifting at your job, a brace will help to add stability. The more stable your core, the stronger support you provide to your spine, which helps to reduce the chances of injury.
Or, if you're an athlete, a brace is always a great option to help keep you feeling strong and protect your back. If, for some reason, you are unable to wear a brace, then a compression shirt could be helpful. Better yet, use kinesiology tape to help your back.
When you have an injury, it's not only painful but it can be scary if you don't know what to do in order to move forward. Whether you injured your back at work, at home, or doing an activity, everyone wants the same thing: to feel better.
By seeking medical attention to get a diagnosis, finding a treatment method such as physical therapy, and taking measures to prevent to help to reduce pain after your injury, you will help to improve your back health both immediately and long-term.