What do back pain patients really need to know? Here are a number of little known facts about back pain causes, prevention and treatment options.
The Amount of Back Pain does not Equal Injury/Damage
With acute pain, such as if you touch a hot iron, you will immediately feel a great deal of pain (the level of pain correlates to the level of damage). However, chronic pain (lasting greater than 6 weeks) is different, and the amount of back pain you feel does not typically correlate the amount of damage or degree of injury.
Imaging Tests do not Equal a Diagnosis
An anatomical abnormality that is seen on an imaging test (MRI, CT scan) is not necessarily a cause of your back pain. In fact, the vast majority of people who never have had an episode of back pain will have abnormalities (such as a herniated disc or degenerative disc) on an imaging test.
Disc Degeneration is Natural
Disc degeneration is a natural part of the aging process. With age, all people will exhibit changes in their discs consistent with degeneration. However, not all people will develop painful symptoms. While the disc degeneration is likely to get worse with age, the associated pain usually does not get worse and in fact usually gets better over time.
MRI Scans are not Always Necessary
At Scotchtown Chiropractic and Physical Therapy we can develop a successful treatment approach based on a thorough medical history and physical examination. Only specific symptom patterns in a minority of cases indicate the need for MRI scans or other sophisticated tests. Typically, MRI scans are used when patients are not responding well to appropriate treatment.
Ice and/or Heat Applications Help
Don’t underestimate the impact of simply applying ice and/or heat to alleviate the acute pain. Use of passive modalities such as ice or heat can help reduce spasm and inflammation and enable you to start rehabilitation earlier. Some people get more pain relief from moist heat.
Engage in Activity and Exercise
Following an episode of back pain, most people are naturally inclined to rest their back and not engage in exercise activity (walking, stretching, normal movement). But this is often the worst thing that you can do. The two main reasons bed rest may be recommended are to reduce pressure on the discs in the spine and to stop the mechanical stresses that are irritating pain receptors. However, in most instances, more than 1 or 2 days of rest can be detrimental to recovery, potentially leading to adverse results, including muscle atrophy which in turn causes more pain.
The Spine Benefits from Less Smoking and More Stretching
Anything you do that enhances your overall health will also help keep your back healthy. Quitting smoking will help the back heal and stay healthy. A regular vigorous walking or other aerobic exercise program is essential and should be done at least three times a week. Daily hamstring stretching helps relieve undo pressure/stress to the lower back. Proper nutrition and stress relief can also help keep the back healthy.
Your Brain can Reduce Your Pain
Those who treat back pain now recognize that it is not merely a sensation, like vision or touch, but the perception of back pain is actually strongly influenced by the ways in which your brain processes the pain signals. And you have some degree of influence over this. For example, skills can be developed to use your mind to achieve deep muscle relaxation, which in turn can help alleviate the associated pain.
Find out more at Scotchtown Chiropractic and Physical Therapy
Topic: Back pain Relief