Don’t Suffer Through Back Pain
USA’s Largest Burden: Back Pain
Back pain has been a leading epidemic in the United States for the past forty years. One of the most popular reasons that anyone visits the doctor, or misses a day of work; is because of the pain piercing throughout their back. Your back, or the spinal column contains moving parts, that are easily susceptible to damage, irritation, and sometimes even movement. Let’s go a bit deeper… Any spinal column movement is negative and can easily result in a slipped vertebral disc.
Your spinal column is supposed to move as a whole, not individually. A persons’ back is made up of two key spinal segments, called the Thoracic spine and the Lumbar spine. The main function of the thoracic spine is to protect your organs, especially the lungs and heart. The thoracic spine has a ‘C’ shape, and is less mobile than the lumbar spine. “The lumbar spine has five lumbar vertebrae, which are the largest vertebrae. These vertebrae are also aligned in a reverse “C” like the cervical spine, creating a normal lumbar lordosis. The five lumbar vertebral bodies are the weight-bearing portion of the spine and are the largest in diameter compared to the thoracic and cervical vertebral bodies.”1
Now that we’ve gotten a deeper understanding of what your back is actually made up of, we can dwell into eliminating the pain that may be caused from stress on your back.
Three types of back pain currently bring a burden to the world: Acute pain, Chronic pain, and Neuropathic Pain.
Acute pain is the most common type of pain, defined as lasting 3 to 6 months, with immediate proof of pain. The best way to familiarize acute pain with someone without knowledge of pain, is to compare acute pain to holding your hand on a hot stove. The pain receptors in your hand immediately relay to your brain that this action indicates pain. Acute back pain is directly stemmed from tissue damage. This can be an abrasion or blemish on the physical surface of your back.
Chronic pain can last anywhere from 6 months to over two years. Chronic pain is another very common type of pain that results from back surgery, or long-time pressure on your back. I’m sure those without back issues are praising their peers for always saying “lift with your knees, not your back.” The worst aspect about chronic pain is that it doesn’t always have an identifiable pain generator. In this instance, the type of pain continues beyond the point of tissue healing.
“It appears that pain can set up a pathway in the nervous system and, in some cases, this becomes the problem in and of itself. In chronic pain the nervous system may be sending a pain signal even though there is no ongoing tissue damage. The nervous system itself misfires and creates the pain. In such cases, the pain is the disease rather than a symptom of an injury.”2
Lastly, Neuropathic pain is the least investigated of the three pain types. This nerve pain is quite different from pain caused by an injury. “These damaged nerve fibers send incorrect signals to other pain centers. The impact of nerve fiber injury includes a change in nerve function both at the site of injury and areas around the injury.”3 Neuropathic pain and back pain seamlessly fall under the category of ongoing major pain.
How to Combat Back Pain
Combating back pain may sound much harder than it actually is. The first step in correctly combating this pain and other chronic pain issues is identification. Identify what type of pain you’re undergoing, and we can move to step two: application.
The application of eliminating your back pain is as easy as discipline. Disciplining yourself to lift heavy objects with your knees, or to partake in physical therapy is the initial way to better your pain. If your pain persists, or becomes too overbearing for self-work, seek medical attention.
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All image credit goes to: Pixabay
1 “The Spinal Column.” The Spinal Column. North American Spine Society, Apr. 2014. Web. 21 Dec. 2016.
2 ABPP, William W. Deardorff PhD. “Types of Back Pain: Acute Pain, Chronic Pain, and Neuropathic Pain.” Spine-health. Spine-health, 22 Jan. 2003. Web. 21 Dec. 2016.
3 Robinson, Jennifer, MD. “Neuropathic Pain Management.” Web M.D. WebMD Medical Reference, 29 Aug. 2015. Web. 21 Dec. 2016.