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.

Sharp Lower Back Pain and Its Possible Origins

Sharp lower back pain can be caused by so many different conditions it is difficult to really get a fix on what the cause could be. All you really know for sure is you have sharp lower back pain and it is sudden, persistent and usually below the waist. Although this is no consolation, this is a very common occurrence for the majority of the population.

If push came to shove, the most common guess on why you are suffering from sharp lower back pain would be muscle strain as a result of heavy physical work or lifting, bending or twisting the wrong way, or sitting or standing in really weird positions (anyone ever try and paint a ceiling overhand over your head?). On their own these movements can cause sharp lower back pain, but they may also aggravate existing sharp lower back pain.
Other possibilities for sharp lower back pain can and do include spinal stenosis (when channels in the spine containing the spinal cord and nerve roots become restricted), arthritis, spinal infection, tumors, a condition called spondylolisthesis (when one of the spine’s bones slips forward over the vertebra beneath it) and fractures. Now we’re certain that since you are reading this, you are likely hoping the cause of your sharp lower back pain is NOT one of the above.
Categories of sharp lower back pain fall into either the acute or chronic areas. Acute may come on out of nowhere like a freight train and bring intense pain that usually (but not always) lasts less than three months. Chronic, as you well know, means you have it often for your lifetime, and unfortunately, chronic pain can even have episodes of acute pain.
What would you be looking for, what signs do you need to relay to your doctor? Generally speaking when listing the signs of sharp lower back pain you would be pointing to a specific area of the lower back. It would have general aching or pain that radiates into your lower back, butt and legs. You might even have numbness, tingling or weakness. Again, generally speaking, low-level signs of problems are not cause for great concern as they can usually be dealt with speedily. If however you have bowel or bladder problems because of it and severe numbness that does not subside call your doctor.
So what would your doctor be doing to figure out why you are suffering from sharp lower back pain? Besides taking a full history, he would do something called a range of motion check. You stand straight up (as best you can while in pain that is) and how you stand is evaluated, as is how you bend forward, backward and to the sides. Anything that doesn’t look right is noted.

Next your doctor will do a slow and careful palpation of the spine that may reveal muscle spasms, displacements or other sore points. By the way, your doctor will also do an abdominal palpation to check for any organ involvement. Then get ready for a series of neurological assessments, lab tests, and imaging studies to try and get to the bottom of your back problem.

What Are Some Of The Causes Of Neck Pain

Prolonged or repeated movement to the neck’s joints, ligaments, muscles, bones or tendons usually caused by activities, account for the majority of the causes of neck pain. They can cause neck muscle spasms, a strain, neck joint inflammation, or a sprain. Tension from focusing intensely or stress often causes painful, tight muscles connecting the shoulders, neck, and head. Other causes of neck pain include overhead exercises or work that uses the arms and upper body, such as weight lifting or holding your head in an odd, uncomfortable, or forward position for extended periods, while doing things such as reading, holding the phone receiver, playing video games, or working on the computer. Taking a nap sitting upright, sleeping with your neck in an uncomfortable position, a pillow that is too flat or high, or using your arm or upright fist as a headrest are often causes of neck pain. In many cases, doctors cannot find any specific reason for a person’s neck problem.

A healthy well-balanced neck allows for stresses, movement and strains of the body and head. The cervical spine, which runs through the neck, consists of discs that separate the interlocking vertebrae, ligaments and muscles that hold the neck spine together. When trauma or injury occurs to parts of the neck or the neck becomes unbalanced, this can cause a sore neck or painful neck injury. Several causes of neck pain include minor injuries such as, falling a short distance, tripping, twisting, or excessive cervical spine motion resulting in moderate neck problems. Direct blows to the head, face, or neck; whiplash; an injury that penetrates the neck; strangulation or other outside-neck pressure; falls from substantial heights; or sport-related injuries are often causes of neck pain and injury.

Medical conditions, some of them age related, are often causes of neck pain. Disc disorders occur when the disk cushioning between the vertebrae in your neck becomes dry, often due to aging, which causes the space to narrow near the nerves. Herniated neck disks occur when a disks inner gelatinous material protrudes through the tough covering of a disk and can irritate nearby nerves or cause a pinched nerve. Other causes of neck pain occur when bony growths or other tissues press on the nerves in your neck. Rheumatoid arthritis, an inflammatory disease that commonly occurs in the upper neck region, can cause destruction of the neck joints. Meningitis is a very serious illness that causes the tissues of the spinal cord and the brain to become inflamed. Influenza is another of the many causes of neck pain. It usually makes the whole body including the neck ache but does not cause severe neck stiffness. There are many other causes of neck pain such as infections, tumors, or even side effects from prescribed medications.

Causes of Right Side Upper Back Pain

Right side upper back pain usually occurs between your lower back and neck, in the area where the spinal column and ribs join. Right side upper back pain may develop from torn or overstretched muscles and ligaments caused by injury, strain, or overuse. When there is any type of damage or injury alongside the spinal column, to the muscles and ligaments attached to the bones or vertebrae, you feel right side upper back pain. Some individuals may experience frequent muscle contractions or occasional muscle spasms. Usually localized, your can often feel the pain when someone touches your upper back; moving your shoulders; while breathing; or while moving your neck. Some experience restrictions in movement with right side upper back pain when the pain travels along their right shoulder blade.

Other reasons for your right side upper back pain include misalignment or partial dislocation of rib joints, which causes localized, intense sharp pain and pain when breathing in deeply. There is sometimes referred pain with this that goes through the chest cavity, ribs, and to the side. For strained muscles causing right side upper back pain, many doctors recommend conservative treatments such as anti-inflammatory, muscle relaxants, ice packs, and stretching exercises. Many physicians do not recommend any physical activity such as exercising, other than stretching, because this may cause further damage. Another cause of right side upper back pain is a disc or facet join in your cervical spine. Postural syndrome may cause an aching pain in the right upper back. Computer operators that spend most of their day sitting at a computer are prone to this, due to the abnormal strain placed on their shoulder and thoracic muscles from reaching for their mouse or poor posture from sitting improperly or looking up or down continuously at the monitor.

Referred pain from some organ dysfunctions can cause right side upper back pain and thoracic spine pain. Some of the causes of referred pain include stomach disorders, gallbladder problems such as gallstones, spleen, heart, asthma, osteoporosis, and pancreas problems. Chiropractic care can bring relief to a majority of patients suffering from right side upper back pain. For treatment of symptomatic disc injuries, the chiropractor uses the flexion distraction technique. While lying on a special table, it gently stretches the patient’s spine in a pumping motion and lets the chiropractor isolate and treat the area of disc involvement.

If you are suffering from right side upper back pain, see your doctor who will give you a physical examination and run tests to find out the cause of your problem and provide a diagnosis. If left untreated, your condition can become debilitating or chronic.

Chiropractic Neck Manipulation and Upper Back Pain Treatments

Chiropractic is a method of treatment that manipulates the spine and other body structures to relieve pain. Many consider chiropractic a non-invasive, drug-free, safe therapy for treating neuro-musculoskeletal complaints such as back pain, joint pain in the legs or arms, neck pain, and shoulder pain. Like all health treatments, there can be rare potential adverse effects. Some people will turn to chiropractic for neck manipulation and upper back pain treatment because other pain methods did not work for them. Although chiropractic risks are very small and many people find almost instant relief after a treatment, some patients experience minor aching or slight soreness similar to exercising. Some studies show that manual manipulation for chronic spinal pain provided more affective short-term relief than many types of medications.

Although neck manipulation and upper back pain treatment is very safe, there have been some reports that associated a specific type of stroke with upper high-velocity neck manipulation but the cause or correction is not clear. This is extremely rare with the occurrence rate at approximately one in over five and a half million neck manipulations. There are also some reports that suggest a person experiencing severe, sudden headache and/or upper neck pain will seek chiropractic relief, because they believe it is a neck problem, when it may actually be a pre-stroke condition. Speak to your doctor if you have any medical conditions and are considering chiropractic treatment for neck manipulation and upper back pain treatments.

Treating upper back pain, neck pain and some specific headaches types, using neck manipulation, also called cervical manipulation or neck adjustment helps the majority of patients. A neck manipulation and upper back pain treatment is done to improve the necks mobility, which reduces muscle spasms and restores motion range by alleviating tension and pressure. It is an exact procedure to the neck joints and normally applied by hand. Patients that have received a neck manipulation and upper back pain procedure usually notice an improvement in neck mobility and less stiffness, soreness, and pain.

For people that do not want neck manipulation and upper back pain treatments, there are many other back pain therapies available for neck and upper back pain. Acupuncture treatment for pain is a very safe technique that has proven to relieve many patients old, new, and even chronic pain. Used for centuries, acupuncture uses needles to stimulate the nerve pathways to the brain through the spinal cord. Although this sounds painful, it is not. Other neck and upper back pain treatments also include stretching exercises, massage therapy, yoga, and herbs.