Back pain is a common ailment for a large majority of the population. Many people consistently perform tasks that exert the muscles, nerves and ligaments of their back and spine. When they overexert these essential components, it more or less causes the upper and lower back to degenerate.
The Spine and Back
The spine is made from 30 bones, all of which stack into a single column. These bones are known as vertebrae. The spine, also known as the vertebral column, curves naturally toward the back of the body, passing through the upper chest, and balanced by a similar curve from the front (through the lower vertebrae). The joints of the spine allow you to bend, twist and turn, particularly from the neck and the lower back. Together, all of these vertebrae, joints and nerves create a stable system allowing people to walk and move around. The spine and back, as mentioned, are prone to degeneration. Degeneration, in this case, refers to situations where the back and spine can’t properly function. In turn, this causes what many people know as back pain.
Common Causes of Back Pain
Although back pain can affect people at any age, it is most commonly seen in adults between the ages of 35 and 55. Back pain is a universal problem, and most people will experience back pain at some point in their life. This pain is typically focused in the lower back region. The lower back is subject to more mechanical stress and strain from the weight of the upper body. Pain in the lower back can be intense and is one of the top causes of work-related absence. Often, the exact cause of back pain is non-specific, meaning no primary cause can be pinpointed. There are many potential culprits of back pain, which are briefly outlined below.
- Aging – Most people begin to experience back pain in their thirties. The normal wear and tear of using our backs over time can cause the bones and disks in our spine to degenerate, leading to stiffness and soreness.
- Bad Posture & Sedentary Lifestyle – When we are inactive, we become stiff. Prolonged sitting or standing coupled with poor posture is a common cause of back pain. Static posture and behavior tend to weaken the core muscles in the abdomen and back. Underuse and weakening of the core stabilizers often leads to back pain.
- Being Overweight – Overweight individuals are at an increased risk of developing back pain. This is especially true when much of the excess weight is carried in the midsection. Too much weight in this area can pull the pelvis forward, putting excess stress on the lower back.
- Heredity – Some back pain causes originate from genetics. Research has indicated that individuals with an immediate family member, such as a parent or sibling, with disc-related low back pain were more likely to experience low-back pain themselves.
- Manual Labor – Not surprisingly, many people develop back pain from some form of manual labor. Low back pain is very common among the manual labor work force. Unlike back pain caused by sedentary jobs that require sitting at a desk for extended periods, manual laborers face a different set of challenges. Frequent heavy lifting and twisting put these workers’ backs at a greater risk for strains, sprains, and herniated discs.
- Diseases – Back pain is often just a symptom of another condition or disease. Some diseases and conditions that contribute to back pain include arthritis, scoliosis, kidney stones, endometriosis and fibromyalgia
- Smoking – Some people are surprised to learn that smoking can cause back pain. Nicotine constricts blood vessels, which limits the flow of oxygen-rich blood to bones and muscles. As a result, smoking can prevent nutrients from reaching the spinal discs, and also ‘blocks’ the body’s natural regenerative properties.
A large majority of our Austin back pain patients develop this condition due to some type of labor, since it usually causes the back and spine to develop mechanical problems. Tense muscles, ruptured discs, spasms, injuries and disc degradation are some common causes of back pain.
Treatment Options for Back Pain Relief
Most treatments for back pain successfully treat acute back pain (pain that lasts less than 6 weeks). Other treatments are designed to provide relief for those who suffer from chronic back pain (pain that lasts for more than 3 months). Medications (topical and oral), hot/cold packs and physical therapy are some of the most common forms of upper and lower back pain treatment. Surgery is another alternative treatment option to address severe back pain. Back pain injections provide some instant relief from back pain. They’re typically injected around the inflamed or damaged nerves of the back. Some back pain injections include:
- Epidural Injections – Epidural injections are administered around the spinal cord. The medication injected into the space between the spinal cord and the spine usually consists of a steroid medicine (corticosteroid) and anesthetic.
- Nerve Blocks – Nerve blocks are injected around the nerve. The medication used consists of a numbing medicine or anesthetic. This type of treatment numbs the area and provides immediate relief, though the effect typically wears off after several hours. Nerve blocks may be used to diagnose the source of the pain which may then be chosen for an epidural injection.
Besides back pain injections, spinal cord stimulation is another treatment option that may be used for back pain relief. The procedure uses an electrical current (generated from a small pulse generator) to send electrical pulses to the nerves of the spinal cord, interfering with their natural impulses and subsiding pain.
Back Pain Treatment in Austin
Back pain can be a very painful and disabling condition that affects people from all walks of life. People with back pain may be unable to work or complete important daily tasks, which can significantly affect the quality of their lives.
If you are an individual in the Austin area experiencing back pain, there is no need for you to suffer any longer. At the Diagnostic Pain Center in Austin, we provide individualized and comprehensive pain management care. Dr. Robert S. Marks offers a variety of diagnostic procedures designed to pinpoint the source of your back pain. During your one-on-one consultation with Dr. Marks, he will evaluate your symptoms, lifestyle and medical history to identify the problem and customize an effective treatment plan that best meets your needs.
For more information on back pain treatment in Austin, please give us a call today at (512) 981-7246. If you would like to request an appointment online, you can do so through our convenient online appointment request form. We look forward to meeting you!