Having constant back pain causes such as spasms, muscle strains, or disk issues can put a damper on your life.…
Medical experts rank back pain as one of most common medical conditions, affecting an estimated 80% of all Americans at some point during their lives. What makes back pain particularly troublesome, is that it is a medical condition that affects people of all ages, genders, and ethnic backgrounds. But what exactly causes back pain?
An adult spine consists of a stack of 24 bones called vertebrae, plus the bones of the sacrum and coccyx. These bones support the human body and protect the spinal cord’s major column of nerve fibers connected to the brain. These fibers run through the vertebrae via the spinal canal. Between each vertebra are discs made of cartilage and filled with a gel-like material, these act similar to a shock absorber. Also, ligaments, muscles, tendons and small joints called facets help hold the vertebrae together.
Back pain affects up to 8 in 10 people at some point during their lifetime. Back pain is common in part because the spine is central to many of our daily activities, whether strenuous or not. The spine consists of 24 interlocking vertebrae, which are divided into three types: cervical, thoracic, and lumbar. Fibrous ligaments, discs, and muscles connect these bones, allowing for a combination of stability and flexibility to allow us to perform a variety of daily activities.
While we typically think of sitting as a restful activity, prolonged periods of sitting can lead to chronic back pain. Today’s lifestyles often involve significantly more time spent sitting than in previous decades. We all can enjoy the modern luxuries of being able to watch TV, browse the Internet, or order in a precooked meal at the end of a long day of work. However, for many of us, that long day of work involves sitting at a desk, so we go from sitting at work to sitting at home. It has become increasingly recognized that spending many hours planted in a seat is actually detrimental to one’s health. While a brief period of sitting is natural, long periods of sitting typically place the spine and pelvis in an unnatural position for an extended time, leading to low back pain among other issues.
Mild back pain can be a nuisance. It turns everyday tasks into painful challenges. Walking, exercising, working and even sitting in a chair can cause unfathomable levels of discomfort. While seemingly counterintuitive, stretching actually plays a vital role in healing and alleviating back pain. During a period of chronic back pain, exercise is the last thing anyone wants to think about; but spine doctors indicate straightening and extending one’s body to its full length is exactly what the spine needs. It’s common knowledge that regular exercise is an essential component to the body’s overall health, yet many people seem to overlook stretching during their workout routine. But for individuals suffering from chronic back pain, stretching muscles can help alleviate discomfort in the spine, and even help prevent future occurrences of pain.
An estimated 80% of the population experiences back pain– especially lower back pain– at one point or another in their lifetime. While still prevalent, leg pain can stem from back pain, but it occurs less frequently. Leg pain tends to be both bothersome and debilitating, potentially limiting an individual’s daily activities. Patients consulting a spinal care look to a doctor to administer treatment for quick pain relief; more importantly, patients want doctors to provide answers to the cause of their discomfort. But in the end, patients fail to understand that the answer may not be as clear-cut as they believe.
In reality, a wide spectrum of spinal conditions can lead to instances of both back and leg pain.
For example, Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) can trigger leg pain, coupled with back pain. PAD refers to the buildup of plaque along artery walls and the subsequent blocking of blood vessels in the legs. This, in turn, restricts the amount of oxygen nourishing the leg muscles and causes discomfort in patients’ legs and back. But combined leg and back pain can also be a harbinger of a life-threatening condition called Deep Vein Thrombosis. This serious condition refers to the formation of blood clots in the deep veins in the body. If the clot breaks free, it can be dangerous and clog a smaller vessel, thereby culminating into a stroke.
Individuals suffering from chronic back pain may begin to wonder if their outdated mattress contributes to their discomfort. The average human spends one-third of his or her life sleeping on a mattress; thus, one can safely assume that resting on the wrong mattress attributes to back pain to some extent. The only time muscles and ligaments in the spine can completely relax occurs during periods of slumber. So individuals with chronic back pain will greatly benefit from a good night’s sleep on an adequate mattress.
The news media is bursting at the seams with stories of the incidence of people addicted to pain medications. Every year prescription painkillers cause more than 16,000 deaths and 475,000 emergency room visits. Now admittedly, some of those people just take the meds for the “high”, but, the majority of folks began taking prescription painkillers to help alleviate chronic pain, and now cannot live without that medication. While Grandpa might have rubbed liniment on his joints to help the pain subside a little, people today feel the need to be as pain-free as possible, even if it means popping pills on a regular basis.
One of the best choices for getting your daily exercise is walking. When Michelle Obama promoted a campaign to walk 10,000 steps daily (the equivalent of five miles), many people began to take notice that walking was easy and fun. As a nation, we also began to understand what doctors have been preaching for years – you need to get up and move, especially if you have a job where you spend the majority of your day sitting.
You can combat a sedentary lifestyle in several ways. Carry those loafers or pretty pumps in a tote bag and lace up your walking shoes before you leave the house. Park as far away as possible and take the stairs if you are able to do so. Once at the workplace, get up out of the chair to stretch several times a day or take a stroll down the hall. If you are not one to hit the gym at the end of the work day, why not erase those dinner calories by grabbing your partner, or your pooch, or both, and walking in the neighborhood?
Office furniture was staid and boring for decades. Except for the big boss in the corner office, everyone else had a metal desk and a small upholstered chair that rolled on four casters on a plastic mat.
Then came cubicles a/k/a “cubes”, the workstations that became the bane of many office worker’s existence because they could hear the conversations of co-workers yet all they could see were high metal enclosures.
The office furniture manufacturers have incessantly tweaked their products to accommodate employee’s various needs. Office chairs and desks were designed to be aesthetically pleasing, but ergonomically correct. In some workplaces a whole-office ergonomic analysis was done on individual employee work stations to ensure that employees were working comfortably and without restrictions.
We’ve all seen the pictures of the hunched-over elderly person who has to walk with a cane. It’s one of the first things that come to mind when we think of older folks’ ailments… back problems. But is back pain a normal sign of aging? Does it really have to be this way? Must we suffer with back problems, medical conditions of the spine, and back pain, just because we’re headed toward our senior years? The answer is an unequivocal ‘Absolutely not! Back pain is not an inevitable, unavoidable part of getting older. In fact, many people throughout the country find that ‘aging gracefully’ includes aging without having to suffer with back pain. Here are some tips from joint specialists in South Orange about aging and back pain, and how to avoid it heading into middle age and beyond.