Whether you or a loved one have been struggling with back pain, this guide will provide you with the knowledge and tools necessary to understand your pain, learn about treatment options, and prevent further injury and complications.
Risk Factors for Back Pain
There are several risk factors that place some people at higher risk for back pain than others. The most common risk factors include:
- Age: Common age of onset for back pain is 30-55. However, back pain is more common among older adults with the loss of muscle and weakened bones.
- Genetics or spinal deformities: Back pain could be related to genetic conditions or deformities of the spine.
- Weight: People who are overweight and obese have a higher risk of back pain due to the stress it puts on the spine and lower back muscles.
- Activity level: People who are in-active and sit most of the day are prone to back pain due to weakened back and abdominal muscles
- Job-related factors: Jobs requiring heavy lifting, pushing, or pulling can result in back pain.
- Mental health: Anxiety, depression, can influence how a person focuses on and perceives their pain. Muscles tension from stress can also be a source of back pain.
- Smoking: Smoking can cause a lack of blood supply to spine and discs between vertebrae, ultimately leading to faster degeneration.
Acute vs. Chronic Back Pain
Acute back pain is short-term pain, usually lasting only a few days to a few weeks. Acute back pain most often results from injury, however, it can also occur without any obvious cause. Acute pain is usually treated successfully at home with anti-inflammatory medications, modified activity, rest, and cold therapy. 1 in 5 people with acute back pain will develop chronic back pain with persistent symptoms within one year.
Back pain is considered chronic when it continues for 12 weeks or longer. Chronic back pain can sometimes occur after an injury, after the treatment of an injury, or from an underlying cause like stress or excess weight. Although pain may still be present after treatment, this doesn’t always indicate there is a serious issue. It’s important to seek appropriate care with a spine specialist if your symptoms persist. Explore treatment options carefully.
Back Pain Self-Assessment
Start thinking about the characteristics of your pain; what it feels like, when did it start, what makes it better or worse? The details you give about your pain allow providers to narrow down the muscles, nerves, or structures in your spine that may be the root cause of the pain. Use the questions below as a guide to assess your pain.
- What does the pain feel like? Is it dull, sharp, throbbing, burning, shooting, stabbing? Does it come and go or is it constant?
- When did the pain first begin? Did it come on suddenly or gradually?
- What were you doing when the pain first began?
- Did you have and injury or accident?
- Do you feel the pain anywhere else, such as hip, thigh. leg, or feet?
- Do you feel any numbness, tingling, or experience any weakness or loss of function in your legs?
- What relieves your pain?
- What makes your pain worse?
Guide For Next Steps
Now that you know what kind of pain and symptoms you are experiencing, let’s determine the corrective treatment.
Once you know what kind of pain you are experiencing and find the appropriate treatment plan, maintenance is the next step. Prevention is essential for long-term care solutions.