Is chronic back pain for life?


2014-07-20 20:05

Chronic back pain is just that, chronic, but is this pain for life?

Chronic back pain is just that, chronic. It means that it persists for more than 3 months. It can be progressive and often the cause is difficult to determine. Whether or not it will last for a lifetime depends on several factors including cause, treatments options, adherence to individual treatment plans as well as the attitude and determination of the individual.

Nearly everyone has back pain at some point in their lives. In fact, nearly nine out of ten adults will experience back pain. For Americans, it is the most common cause of disability with at least $50 billion being spent each year. Fortunately, most occurrences of back pain are acute and go away within a few days. For the rest, it takes much longer to resolve. This leads to the question…Is chronic back pain forever?

Causes
Before it can be treated, chronic pain needs to be evaluated for a cause. Here are a few of the more commons causes of chronic back pain, however the causes are as varied as the population that it effects.

Herniated (bulging) discs
The cartilage between the vertebrae may weaken and become displaced, pushing into the space containing the spinal cord causing pain. This can sometimes lead to cauda equina syndrome, which is a serious complication. This occurs when the disc is pushed into the spinal canal and then compresses nerve roots. Permanent damage may result if this is left untreated.

Sciatica
This is a condition in which a herniated disc presses on the sciatic nerve which carries nerve fibers down from the pelvis to the leg. This causes electrical or burning low back pain that can also manifest as pain through the buttocks, down the leg and sometimes down to the knee and even foot.

Spinal stenosis
This is caused by the narrowing of the internal canal of the vertebra. It can be congenital or by the degeneration from disc wear and tear over time.

Osteoporosis
This disorder is progressive and is identified by the decrease in bone density and strength. It can then cause fractures of bones within the hips, pelvis and spine with painful outcomes.

Spondylitis
This is an inflammatory process that causes chronic back pain and stiffness. The symptoms are often made worse with immobility. It is definitively diagnosed through the identification of gene markers.

Treatments

Exercise
Don’t take your pain laying down…literally! It used to be the belief that rest allowed for healing. That is not always the case. Exercise may be the most effective way to speed recovery from low back pain. It will help to strengthen muscles that are important in supporting the spine. Generally swimming, walking and yoga are good for stretching, posture and balance. Your doctor or physical therapist can provide you with a regime of exercise that can best assist you.

Chiropractic manipulation
This is a "hands-on" approach in which a doctor of chiropractic care uses leverage and a series of precise movements to adjust spinal structures and help restore back mobility. This is often called “an adjustment”.

Acupuncture
This method involves placing very thin needles into energy meridians, which are precise points throughout the body responsible for the transmission of life force energy. This process can allow for the release of naturally occurring painkilling elements and keeps the body’s normal flow of energy open and unblocked.

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Comments

Interesting article, but I have to comment that I was really surprised massage was not mentioned as a means of treatment. One of the causes of pain that could also use some attention is scoliosis. - Any deviation from a normal curve is going to cause chronic pain because of what it does to the structure of the ENTIRE body...shoulders, hips, knees, feet, etc., can all be affected. Massage addressed the whole body and can be extremely helpful.
I totally agree with you and have done several articles on th benefits of massage, trigger point, myofascial release, etc in its use for pain management. I have worked in pain managment positions where we used massage extensively as well as being a patient myself recieveing massage myself. It was not an oversight as much as there was so much information to include! I am with you and plan on getting a massagre myself later this week. Many blessings and thank you for your comment!
Hi Tracy. CK, or Clinical Kinesiology is about testing muscles to determine where the problem lies. Massage gives relief, for sure, but how long does that relief last? If it is a chronic issue, not long. When we test muscles we often find one or more major hip stabilizers like Ouadratus Lumborum, Hamstrings, tensor fascia lata (or ilio-tibial band) and quadricepts not functioning properly. This could alter the position of the pelvis and causes the spine to bend. According to acupuncture and Kinesiology, these muscles are innervated by the large intestine meridian, and, in case of the quads, by the small intestine meridian. Food allergies are the main cause of those meridians to go into under energy, which will tighten those muscles. If the allergen is consumed regularly it will lead to a chronic problem Again, I would recommend an allergy test for those who have chronic back pain
Thanks for the info.
Chronic back pain can be terrible to deal with as it will hinder majority of your mobility. When your back joints move freely, you can be certain that you will be pain-free. A good chiropractor can help you with the proper exercises and can help realign your back without risk of injury. With enough trips, chiro treatment can even strengthen your back muscles better than before you had chronic back pain. Get your back moving again so that you can be pain-free and be able to move in all directions. You will be stronger and become healthier at the same time. -Dr. Ben Green

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