Back and Neck Pain
As people get older, back and neck pain becomes extremely common. The condition affects not only the physical health of these individuals but also their social and economic well-being. Back and neck pain can disrupt work, routine and other daily activities you engage in. In fact, the condition is one of the leading causes of doctor’s visits and one of the most common reasons why people miss work.
However, while back and neck pain can make your life awfully difficult, majority of cases are treatable without resorting to surgery. There are also certain management steps you can take in order to handle the issues that may arise as a result of back and neck pain. These measures will not only help relieve the pain but also help you reduce the likelihood of recurrences of this condition.
In most instances, back and neck pain is caused by strains or other injuries to the muscles and ligaments surrounding the spinal column. These, in turn, may be caused by sports injuries or a sudden increase in physical activity to which the individual is not accustomed.
Viral infections may also cause flu like symptoms that are often accompanied by muscular pain affecting the neck and the back. The condition is known in medical circles as myalgia.
Another possible cause of your back and neck pain is the degenerative change that your spine undergoes. A person’s spinal column is made up of individual bones (vertebrae) that are joined together by the intervertebral discs, joints and ligaments. All these combined form the strong but flexible structure of your spine.
As a person ages (middle age and beyond), back and neck pain occurs as a result of the wear and tear of your intervetebral discs and other associated components of your spine. The number one cause of these degenerative changes is movement. Motion causes the neck (cervical) and the lower parts (lumbar) of the spine to gradually break down.
Being biological structures, your ligaments and joints will try to heal and repair themselves but as a result, your spine also becomes deformed with several bulging discs, buckling ligaments, and bone spurs. These changes could also affect the canals through which the nerves pass through, pinching them as a result.
Although there is no definitive cure, back and neck pain is a highly treatable condition. The most common therapy used to treat back and neck pain is medications with pain-killing or anti-inflammatory properties.
Passive physical therapy used in conjunction with exercise (active physical therapy) is also another option. Hot or cold compresses are applied to the area affected in order to alleviate the pain. Other modalities may also be used, including the application of electric impulses in order to override the muscular spasms that so often characterize back and neck pain.
Every year, more than 65 million Americans suffer from back pain. The condition is extremely common and one of the leading reasons why people seek medical care.
Besides the obvious pain that comes with it, back pain is also highly inconvenient. It can disrupt your work, routine, and daily activities. Some people suffering from back pain find that they will have to forego indulging themselves in recreational activities like sports simply because it would put too much stress on their back. Others are in so much pain that the simple task of standing up becomes an impossible feat.
Fortunately, the recent advances in medical science, research, and technology have opened up numerous back pain treatment options for people who suffer form this condition. How these back pain treatments affect the patient’s back pain varies from individual to individual so that care is advised when choosing the right form of treatment.
Below are some of the more common back pain treatment options you can choose from:
There is a wide variety of drugs to choose from, including pain relievers, anti-inflammatory medications, and relaxants which can ease muscle tension and spasm. Several of these drugs are available over the counter without need of prescription. However, since some of these drugs may have side effects, it is advised that you consult your doctor before taking any of them.
The drugs used as back pain treatment are classified as follows:
• Non Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) – including aspirin, ibuprofen, Naproxen, Ketoprofen
• COX-2 Inhibitors – such as celecoxib
• Acetaminophen – Tylenol, Anacin-3, Phenaphen, Valadol, and other analgesic medications
• Opioids – such as morphine and codeine
• Muscle relaxants – cyclobenzaprine, Valium, carisoprodol, etc.
This form of back pain treatment requires manual manipulation by a professional therapist or a chiropractor or other qualified health professional. The therapy is thought to help relieve back pain by taking pressure off sensitive neurological tissue, restoring blood flow and increasing blood flow. In addition, chiropractic back pain treatment could trigger a series of chemical reactions in the body, releasing natural pain-killing hormones like endorphin.
This is another form of back pain treatment that is considered as passive since the therapy is applied to the individual. In this method, steroids are injected into the spine. As the drugs travel through the entire spinal column, inflammation in the painful area is decreased, thus providing relief.
Massages are therapeutic back pain treatments that provide pain relief in the lower back. The manual manipulation of the muscles is said to improve the blood flow, which in turn results in reduction of muscle stiffness and range of motion increase. Sometimes, the massage may also trigger the body to release endorphins, which are the body’s natural pain killers.
Back pain is a pain in the neck…err, back. Both literally and figuratively. It could disrupt your life, your work, routine, daily activities and even recreation. Fortunately for most people, episodes of back pain tend to get better within two weeks to two months. This is called the healing period when your body strives to recover from the recent strain it has put up with. It is also at this precise point where you need appropriate back pain therapy.
The purpose of conservative treatment options, such as back pain therapy, include:
• Decrease muscle spasms
• Reduce pain
• Condition the back
• Assist in managing issues that are usually associated with back pain (e.g., sleeplessness or depression)
There are two kinds of back pain therapy that an affected person may undergo. But for purposes of this article, our focus would be on physical back pain therapy as this type is more easily done by the individual or with some help from friends or family. The other form of back pain therapy is chiropractic or osteopathic which requires assistance from a healthcare professional.
On the other hand, physical back pain therapy is further divided into two classes – passive physical therapy (involving modalities) and active (exercises for back pain).
Passive Physical Back Pain Therapy
This class of physical back pain therapy is called “passive” because it is done to the patient, as opposed to the patient taking an active role in his healing. The therapy requires the use of several modalities.
• Heat/Ice Packs – These are the most commonly used type of modality used in passive physical back pain therapy. The degree of relief may depend on several factors. Some patients find that heat packs work better at reducing back pain while others consider ice packs as more effective. Either of the two may be used and may be alternated.
• Iontophoresis – This involves the application of steroids to the skin. Electrical current is added to cause the steroid to migrate under the skin where it has an anti-inflammatory effect, thus providing relief for the patient.
• TENS Units – Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulator (TENS) unit applies electrical stimulation to the back in order to modulate pain. The stimulation overrides the painful signals that are sent to the brain.
• Ultrasound – A form of deep heating, this passive physical back pain therapy applies sound waves to the skin where they penetrate into the soft tissues. This method can relieve acute pain and may even speed up muscle healing.
Active Physical Back Pain Therapy
In addition to using modalities, active physical back pain therapy is also important in order to condition the body and rehabilitate the spine. Patient should pay particular attention to the shoulders, back, hips, and legs when performing exercises. Before you do any exercise program, it is recommended that you perform some warm up or stretching exercises first.