We understand your back.
Pain varies from person to person, and so does pain management. At TheraNow, we understand your back and take a very personalized approach to manage your back pain the right way, just with exercises and lifestyle modifications.
Our AI-powered exercise programs are tailored to your medical condition and needs.
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All about back
- Globally, back pain is single leading cause of disability, limiting work and other activities.
- As many as about 31 million Americans are affected with lower back pain at any given time.
- From adolescents to elderly, back pain can affect people from all ages.
- In the United States, up to 80% of adults will have back pain at some point in their life.
- Back pain accounts to more than 264 million lost work days every year in the United States.
- Worldwide, years lived with disability from back pain has increased by 54% in between year 1990 and 2015.
Back pain based on location
Low Back Pain
Lumbago or low back pain is the most common type of back pain, affecting the lumbar spine (lower part of the back).
Upper/Mid Back Pain
Pain in the thoracic area (the area between the neck and lower back) is known as upper/mid back pain.
Whole Back Pain
The pain in the entire back starting from neck to the end of the lumbar spine is also called generalized back pain or backache.
Duration plays an important role
Duration of the condition has a vital role in understanding, diagnosing, and treating the cause of back pain. Back pain treatment may vary depending upon how long ago the pain started.
Acute Back Pain (short-duration)
A typical back pain that started suddenly, often after an injury, and lasts for up to around 4 weeks is known as acute back pain.
The primary choice of treatment for such pain is OTC pain medications, hot/cold therapy, and gradually exercises.
Chronic Back Pain (long-duration)
A back pain that has lasted for over 12 weeks is classified as a chronic back pain.
OTC pain medications may have been unsuccessful in managing pain and other treatment options must be considered.
Recurrent Back Pain (off & on)
The back pain that goes away but returns after a certain duration is known as recurrent back pain. This is the most common type of back disorder.
OTC pain medications may relieve acute pain but to prevent a recurrence, exercises are the most effective treatment.
Anatomy of the back
The human back comprises of bones (vertebral column), the spinal cord, discs, nerves, muscles, tendons, ligaments and other tissues.
- The vertebral column – Vertebrae are 33 bones that together make the vertebral column, with discs in between.
- The discs – Spongy cartilages located between the vertebrae, providing cushion.
- Nerves – Nerves arise from the spinal cord and go to different parts of the body. Any compression in the nerves may cause pain in the parts supplied by that nerve.
- Muscles – Back has muscles of different sizes that help in maintaining posture and movements.
- Tendons –Tendons are the connective tissues that attach the muscles to the bones.
- Ligaments – Ligaments help in holding the bones and skeletal structures together and in shape.
Treatment tailored for your back
- Answer simple questions.
- Choose your plan.
- Exercise to recovery.
Know your back more
The back is a complex structure with components like muscles, spinal cord, discs, bones, ligaments, tendons, and nerves. Any of these can independently or collectively cause back pain.
Symptoms widely depend on the components/structures involved in the cause. Most of the causes can be completely treated if diagnosed right.
Back Pain Diagnosis
If back pain warrants a physician visit, diagnosing the cause may be difficult. There are many methods/tools/studies available
the aid in the diagnosis.
Questionnaire & History Taking
Questions on how and when back pain started, duration and nature of pain, location, aggravating and alleviating factors, and mechanism of the injury help a great deal in diagnosing back pain.
Physical examination of the back and other physical tests and reflex testing are necessary for diagnosing back pain.
Radiology & Diagnostics
Symptoms may sometimes warrant thorough radiological tests like x-rays, MRIs, CTs, etc. Laboratory diagnostics may also prove helpful in some cases.
Most common causes of back pain
Injuries from fall/accident
Back pain from injuries can be minor or major depending upon the type and extent of the injury, and the structures/components involved. Some of the most common injuries are caused by falling, tripping, sudden jerky/quick movements, accidents, improper bending, lifting of heavy weights, improper lifting techniques, a sudden twist, and overuse or underuse of the back.
The above causes may lead to strains, sprains, fractures, injury to the spinal cord, disc/nerve compression and much more.
Some of the injuries can be easily managed and cause no serious injuries, however, some may be severely debilitating and can cause prolonged or permanent disability.
Strains and Sprains
The most common musculoskeletal cause of back pain. A strain is an assault to the muscles and tendons, whereas, a sprain is an assault to the ligaments, however, both mean stretched or torn tissues. The low back is the most at-risk area of the back for these injuries.
Pain can be mild to severe, depending on the extent of the assault/injury. Sprains/strains may/may not show signs of swelling and/or bruising.
Movement may worsen the pain in most cases and resting and icing the involved tissue may seem very effective.
Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis may both affect the back. Another cause is a degenerative disc disease, that often hits the back with the progression of age. These cause degenerative changes leading to stiffness in the back, and eventually pain.
According to the Arthritis Foundation, about 31 million people in the United States are affected by osteoarthritis of at least one of the joints in their bodies.
Another study shows that 3 of 5 adults between the age of 45 and 64, and as high as 9 of 10 adults above 65 years of age have arthritic changes in lower back based on imaging studies.
Back Pain Management
Managing back pain can be tricky owing to the plethora of reasons that cause back pain. A one-plan-fits-all approach can fall short of appropriately managing back pain, as each back pain has a different root cause and thus, the involved structures. A personalized approach is what makes a difference. Identifying the cause carefully is the key.
Most common back pain management techniques are –
- Oral treatments – OTC medications, prescription drugs, opioids, and supplements.
- Topical treatments – Topical medicines, heat/cold therapy.
- Physical Therapy – Movement and exercises.
- Lifestyle changes.
When to approach a doctor?
Back pain doesn’t necessarily mean serious health condition, and so doesn’t warrant a visit to a doctor all the time. Such back pain may just be mild to moderate pain or a nagging sensation in the back. However, in some particular instances, an immediate doctor’s help is necessary.
Symptoms that need immediate doctor’s help- –
- Severe pain.
- Burning, numbness or tingling in the extremities
- Pain radiating to the extremities
- Headache or dizziness
Some people may be at risk –
- People with a recent history of major accidents and injuries
- People with cancer
- Long-term steroid or IV drug use
- People with a weak immune system
Back pain can be prevented
Maintaining proper posture and positioning
A good posture and proper positioning throughout activities is the most helpful way to prevent the back from musculoskeletal injuries and pain.
Back muscles need a lot of strengthening when underused due to the nature of the job. Also, strengthening the core muscles can work wonders for the lower back.
Stretching the back muscles daily is the best way to protect your back.
Maintain an active, healthy lifestyle.