Understanding Your Back Pain

Back pain afflicts most people at some point of their lives, with half of all Americans reporting they experience these symptoms every year. Usually back pain is minor, fading away on its own after some rest. However, that is not the experience of many others who find their entire life turned upside down by back pain disorders. So, what causes back pain, and how do you know when you need to seek help and when you can just take some time off to relax? This overview will provide an answer, as well as explaining the causes of back pain, allowing you to avoid it if you can.

Causes of Back Pain

  1. Spinal Disorders: There are several spinal disorders, some of which develop later in life while others are life long afflictions. They include:
    • Degenerative Disk Disease: The discs between the joints of the spine, which absorb shocks from movement like walking or running, can sometimes begin to shrink. This then causes the spinal joints to rub together. It is progressive over time and generally occurs as people grow old.
    • Spinal Stenosis: This is another disorder that is common in the aged, generally older than 60. Those with this spinal stenosis have a spinal canal which has narrowed over time, placing pressure on the spine and accompanying nerves. This causes numbness in the legs and shoulders, often sending sufferers to a chiropractor or other spinal disorder expert.
    • Scoliosis: This back pain disorder is one that a person generally has from birth. Those with scoliosis have a curvature to their spine in either an S or a C shape. Although the issue is present at birth, pain from it usually does not occur until later in life.
  2. Fractures: Back pain disorders also result from accidents, which is the most common reason for a spinal fracture. Although not all spinal fractures are severe, rehabilitation from such an injury should be monitored by a doctor, at least.
  3. Sprains: This type of injury often results from strenuous, sustained physical activity. This means the most common examples are athletes and their sports injuries.

    When to See a Medical Practitioner

    The following factors are clear indications that your back pain is more than you can manage alone. If you experience these along with back pain disorders, seek medical attention.

    • Bowel or bladder malfunction
    • Fever
    • Results from a fall or injury
    • Back pain is debilitating and remains unchanged after rest
    • Pain extends down one or both legs
    • Pain is accompanied by weakness
    • Unexplained weight loss

    Although back pain impacts many people, if you know the causes and the signs that something serious has occurred, you should be able to avoid a serious back pain disorder or mitigate the impact it has on your life.

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