Chronic Back Pain: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment
If back pain persists for three months or more, it is deemed chronic. It can come and go, frequently offering just momentary respite and then leading to irritation. If you don’t know the source, managing chronic back pain can be very difficult.
Dr. Andrew Nava, an expert in back pain rehabilitation, provides information on prevalent causes of chronic back pain and nonsurgical treatment options—advicing readers not to give up hope.
Injury, physical exercise, and various medical disorders can all cause back discomfort. People of any age and for a variety of causes may be affected by it. Because of things like previous occupations and degenerative disc disease, lower back pain is more likely to develop as people age.
Lower back discomfort can be caused by the bony lumbar spine, the discs between the vertebrae, the ligaments that surround the spine and discs, the spinal cord and nerves, the lower back muscles, the abdominal and pelvic internal organs, or the skin around the lumbar region. The aorta, a chest tumor, or inflammation of the spine can all cause upper back pain.
Symptoms of Chronic Back Pain
The primary sign of back pain is a dull soreness across the back, often even extending to the buttocks and legs. Depending on which nerves are impacted, some back problems can produce discomfort in other areas of the body. The discomfort frequently goes away on its own. However, a person should see a doctor if it happens with any of the following:
- Unexplained weight loss
- Back swelling
- Chronic back pain that is made worse by lying down or sleeping
- Pain in the legs beneath the knees
- A recent back injury, strike, or trauma
- Difficulties urinating
- Urinary incontinence
- Faecal incontinence or losing control of bowel motions
- Numbness around the genitals
- Numbness around the anus
- Numbness around the buttocks
Muscles, ligaments, tendons, discs, and bones make up the intricate structure of the human back, which supports the body and allows for mobility. The discs that act as cushions for the spine’s segments resemble cartilage. Back pain can result from issues with any of these parts. However, the exact etiology of some back pain situations is still unknown.
Damage may be caused, among other things, by strain, certain medical disorders, or improper posture.The most common causes of chronic back pain are strain, tension, or injury. Back discomfort frequently results from the following causes:
- stretched ligaments or muscles
- a muscular spasm
- damaged discs
- fractures, falls, or injuries
It might be challenging to identify the exact source of chronic back pain in some situations. According to Nava, it’s time to get a second opinion from a back pain specialist if your doctor has used all available diagnostic techniques. It’s crucial to wait until the cause of the discomfort is identified before making a hasty decision or undergoing invasive medical procedures. Nava cautions that they could not only not assist but also make the discomfort worse.
Your best option may be to work with your doctor to reduce the flare-ups and make the pain manageable using nonsurgical therapies if the cause of the pain is unknown or cannot be cured.
Ways To Manage Chronic Back Pain
The cornerstone of treating persistent back pain is exercise. You should try it as one of the first treatments under the supervision of your doctor and a spine physical therapist. However, according to Nava, not every person responds well to the same set of activities. Exercises must be customized for your unique symptoms and condition. Keeping up the exercise schedule at home is also essential for success.
Physical therapy for persistent back pain could consist of:
- Practicing better posture
- Examination of the pain threshold
- Exercises for flexibility and stretching
- Aerobic exercise
- Core strengthening
Meditation and Mindfulness
Chronic back pain is straining both physically and emotionally. You can be given a referral to a rehabilitation psychologist to address the frustration, impatience, sadness, and other psychological effects of dealing with chronic pain. To prevent your mind from dwelling on pain, this physician might suggest mindfulness practices like meditation, yoga, tai chi, and other cognitive and relaxation techniques.
Some diets, particularly those rich in trans fats, refined carbohydrates, and processed foods, are quite inflammatory. Consult your doctor to determine whether your diet may be a factor in your persistent back pain and how you might modify it. By relieving strain on your spine, maintaining a healthy weight may also help you have less back discomfort.
It’s critical to recognize your limitations when dealing with chronic back pain and to adjust. “Listen to your body and learn to pace yourself,” advises Nava. When mowing the yard, take a break, and when carrying groceries, make multiple trips. Make a note of the activities that make your pain worse and, if you can, avoid them. This might not only make your back feel better, but it might also stop the underlying disease from getting worse. Giving up smoking is a crucial lifestyle adjustment to try. Scientific research has shown that nicotine increases pain and slows healing.
Chronic back pain may also benefit from acupuncture, massage, biofeedback therapy, laser therapy, electrical nerve stimulation, and other nonsurgical spine treatments. Consult your spine doctor about any potential benefits of alternative therapies.
Medications such as muscle relaxants, analgesics, and anti-inflammatory medicines can all be used to manage chronic back pain. However, the majority have negative side effects and are not meant for long-term use. Many of them are habit-forming and don’t deal with the real source of your suffering. Only after a thorough examination by a professional and in cases when other medications have proven ineffective may opioids be supplied. It may be time to look for a second opinion if you find yourself reliant on opioids to get through the day.
In conclusion, chronic back pain is a prevalent condition that can significantly impact an individual’s quality of life. While the exact source of the pain may sometimes be challenging to identify, it is crucial not to lose hope. Dr. Andrew Nava, an expert in back pain rehabilitation, emphasizes the importance of seeking a second opinion from a back pain specialist if the cause remains unknown after thorough diagnostic efforts. Rushing into invasive medical procedures without a clear understanding of the root cause can potentially worsen the discomfort.
Overall, the journey to manage chronic back pain may require patience and perseverance, but it’s essential not to give up. Working closely with healthcare professionals and adopting a comprehensive approach to treatment can empower individuals to find relief and regain control over their lives. Remember, each person’s experience with chronic back pain is unique, so finding the right combination of treatments that work best for you is key to improving your well-being and overall quality of life.