There is a pain that nearly everyone experiences, regardless of age, gender or ethnicity. Back pain can be caused by a list of reasons, so every person has their own unique symptoms and ways to manage them. Yet, back pain could mean more than just stiffness from sitting all day. If persistent for more than 3 months, your back pain could be telling you more than you think. Understanding the nature of one’s back pain, what it is, where it comes from, and what other disorders it could be indicating is crucial for maintaining health and wellness.
On an anatomical level, you are in pain because the body is alerting you to something important. As most people know, sitting for prolonged periods of time does nothing for the health of your spine. If stretching and movement do nothing, it could mean something else. The central nervous system might be irritated or inflamed; the erector spinal muscles might be strained; ligaments, joints, and bones might be damaged; or a disc in your spine might be degenerating. This could be the result of lifting something heavy incorrectly, lingering side effects from a car accident, or simply because your body has aged.
However, your back pain is chronic and impedes you from functioning, the issue could be one of the following disorders:
1. Disc Herniation – also called a slipped disc. The cushioning discs between vertebrae have spilled out.
2. Degenerative Disc Disease –shrinking or shrunken vertebral discs cause the bones to chafe.
3. Compression Fracture – due to a fracture, the affected vertebral bones has decreased in height by 15-20%.
4. Osteoarthritis – also called degenerative joint disease or “wear and tear” arthritis.
5. Spinal Stenosis – narrowing of the spinal canal, increasing pressure on spinal nerves. Predominant in 60-year-olds and up.
6. Sciatica – weakness, tingling or numbness in the lumbar spine and legs.
7. Spondylolisthesis – the spinal bones move forward, slipping out of place. The degenerative form is like arthritis, deteriorating important ligaments and joints that keep the spine aligned.
8. Sacroiliac Joint Disease or dysfunction – caused by the erosion or swelling of the joints where the spine and pelvis meet.
9. Cervical Radiculopathy – usually the result of a pinched nerve
10. Bone Spurs – a growth of extra bone that causes painful twinges or tears into soft tissues, muscles, ligaments, tendons, and nerves.
11. Scoliosis – unnatural spinal curvature.
Though less common, other back pain causes might be:
1. Bacterial or Fungal Infections
2. Spinal tumor
3. Ankylosing spondylitis
5. Piriformis syndrome
Some lifestyle factors might also perpetrate back pain. This includes smoking tobacco, bad postural habits when sitting and standing, a sedentary lifestyle, being overweight, and improper lifting techniques. Emotional stress, depression, and anxiety can also increase tension in the spinal muscles.
Depending on which condition you have, the symptoms can differ greatly. Historically, people experience the most pain and stiffness in the morning and night hours. But common symptoms are:
1. Limited flexibility or range of motion throughout all segments of the spine
2. Dull ache
3. Shooting or stabbing that runs from the back to the toes
4. Poor posture
These serious and alarming symptoms should be treated as an emergency:
1. Limited or total loss of bladder and bowel control
2. Weakness, or pins and needles in the legs
3. Chronic intense pain that worsens throughout the evening hours
5. Abdominal pain
6. Weight loss
Aside from being prescribed analgesics and anti-inflammatory medications, doctors might also a suggest cortisone steroid injections if your back pain is that severe. Strains and sprains should be treated with ice packs. Massage and chiropractic care are also viable.
However, when it comes to recovering from spinal surgeries, correcting any misalignment issues or reeducating your posture, you should consider going to physical therapy.
At New York Dynamic Neuromuscular Rehabilitation & Physical Therapy (NYDN Rehab), you can receive personalized and innovative treatment involving Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization (DNS), trigger point treatments, virtual reality rehabilitation for the cervical spine, and more traditional therapies. The professional staff uses such treatments to aid in recovery from problems like sports injuries, impinged nerves, bulging or herniated discs, sciatica and spinal stenosis.
DNS is an approach developed in Europe at the Prague School of Physical Rehabilitation and is founded on Vojta Therapy. DNS focuses on activating the central nervous system’s neuroplasticity, or adaptability, to reawaken fundamental neural patterns learned from infancy. At NYDN Rehab, the therapists manually work with the body to stimulate certain zones until the correct motor response is initiated. By replicating the places and positions where a child supports itself when learning how to crawl, stand and walk, the nervous system can be gradually reeducated. Proprioception is also enhanced. This approach also has proven salubrious effects on disc herniation or other disorders that cause nerve compression or inflammation.
Back pain doesn’t have to place a stopper on your life. If home remedies don’t work or seem ineffective, incorporating therapies like New York Dynamic Neuromuscular Rehabilitation & Physical Therapy’s groundbreaking treatment approaches can enhance your health by rewiring your nervous system, strengthening your core, and return your flexibility. By getting the proper diagnosis and treatment, you can thoroughly erase back pain and reclaim your life.