Doing an About Face with Low Back Pain

Almost everyone experiences low back pain at some time in their life, and usually it’s more than once. Pain in the lower back can happen to anyone at any age for a variety of reasons.

* Bulging disc
* Herniated disc
* Osteoporosis
* Arthritis
* Degenerative disc disease
* Pinched nerve

There are other causes for low back pain too, including injuries or spine defects. Degenerative disc disease is usually age related. It’s when the soft center of the disk loses water and becomes dry due to the natural aging process. This causes the bones in the spine to become misaligned as the supporting material collapses.

Low back pain can also occur when you injure the muscles or ligaments in the back. The spine itself is not causing the pain, but rather the muscles. Muscle injury can result from daily activities not handled properly. For example, if you lift a heavy object incorrectly, you can strain the muscles. But injury can also occur as a result of something more serious like a car accident or slipping and falling. Sudden falls can cause the spine to compress or the muscles to twist in ways they aren’t meant to twist.

The treatment for low back pain varies according to the cause of the pain. Pain is defined in 3 ways. There’s acute pain which is pain that occurs suddenly, lasts less than approximately three months, and then diminishes as the cause of the pain is healed. For example, you may strain a muscle in your back one day while picking up a heavy box. After a month of hot or cold compresses (depends on type of injury) and careful physical movement, the muscle will heal and the pain goes away. This is acute pain.

Chronic pain is pain that lasts longer than 3 months. It can be pain that continues even after all known causes of the pain have been corrected, or pain you live with due to an uncorrected back problem. Chronic back pain can simply be miserable for the person enduring the pain. The cause of the pain isn’t visible to anyone else, like a broken arm or leg, but it can limit mobility to a large degree.

Recurring back pain is pain that comes and goes without end.

Many times, low back pain is the result of a muscle sprain. This kind of injury is painful, but fortunately the injured muscle usually heals. A sprained low back can result in muscle spasms or sharp pains when you move a certain way. You can get pain relief most of the time from over the counter anti-inflammatory medications and movement restriction for a few days.

Of course, there can be more serious causes of low back pain. They include osteoporosis, disc disease, arthritis and spinal injuries. If you experience chronic or recurring back pain, you should work with a physician to determine which techniques for healing or pain control best fit your situation.

What Is Upper Back Pain?

Often called thoracic pain or middle back pain, people experience upper back pain between the top of their lumbar spine and the base of their neck. A person’s upper spine is very stable and strong because it has to support their upper body weight. It also anchors the rib cage stably and firmly, thus providing a protective cavity for the lungs and heart to function. Attached to the thoracic or upper back are the ribs. Although lower back pain or cervical neck pain are more common spinal disorders than upper back pain, it can cause a lot of anguish and discomfort when it does happen.

The upper back, also called the thoracic spine, is stable and strong, protecting your vital internal chest organs and allowing you to stand upright. The upper back section of the spinal column has limited movement but a great amount of stability so there is normally very little chance of degeneration or injury to the upper back over time. On the other hand, the neck and lower back provides a person with their mobility, so the lumbar spine and cervical spine are far more likely to be injured. They can also develop common spinal disorders such as, degenerative disc disease, herniated disc, spinal instability, or spinal stenosis.

As the result of sudden injury, muscular irritation, strain, joint dysfunction, trauma, or prolonged poor posture, upper back pain can result. Upper back pain often occurs with shoulder pain and/or neck pain. Upper back pain has become a familiar complaint from computer operators who spend a large majority of their day sitting at a computer.

Muscular irritation is a common cause of upper back pain due to repetitive motion, overuse injuries and lack of strength, also called de-conditioning. Large muscles attach the shoulder girdle to the shoulder blades and thoracic rib cage back. These large muscles in the upper back can develop muscular irritation that causes upper back pain. This pain from muscular irritation often results from auto accidents, sports injuries, muscle strains, or other injuries.

More than sixty percent of Americans will suffer from lower or upper back pain and back injuries at some point during their lives and approximately half will of those will experience it numerous times. Lower and upper back pain problems can be very debilitating because they often prevent people from enjoying activities they love, such as playing with their children or grandchildren, going out golfing, jogging, bending over to smell the flowers, or worse. People should be aware that most lower and upper back pain injuries occur over the course of many years and rarely as the result of a single accident or activity.