Back pain (also known “dorsalgia“) is pain felt in the back that usually originates from the muscles, nerves, bones, joints or other structures in the spine.
If you’ve ever groaned, “Oh, my aching back!”, you are not alone. Back pain is one of the most common medical problems, affecting 8 out of 10 people at some point during their lives. Back pain can range from a dull, constant ache to a sudden, sharp pain. Acute back pain comes on suddenly and usually lasts from a few days to a few weeks. Back pain is called chronic if it lasts for more than three months.
The pain may have a sudden onset or can be a chronic pain; it can be constant or intermittent, stay in one place or radiate to other areas. It may be a dull ache, or a sharp or piercing or burning sensation. The pain may be felt in the neck (and might radiate into the arm and hand), in the upper back, or in the low back, (and might radiate into the leg or foot), and may include symptoms other than pain, such as weakness, numbness or tingling.
The spine is a complex interconnecting network of nerves, joints, muscles, tendons and ligaments, and all are capable of producing pain. Large nerves that originate in the spine and go to the legs and arms can make pain radiate to the extremities.
The management goals when treating back pain are to achieve maximal reduction in pain intensity as rapidly as possible; to restore the individual’s ability to function in everyday activities; to help the patient cope with residual pain; to assess for side-effects of therapy; and to facilitate the patient’s passage through any impediments to recovery. For many, the goal is to keep the pain to a manageable level to progress with rehabilitation, which then can lead to long term pain relief. Also, for some people the goal is to use non-surgical therapies to manage the pain and avoid major surgery, while for others surgery may be the quickest way to feel better.
The Brentwood Chiropractic Clinic offers a wide array of treatment options for treating back pain. Laser therapy, ultrasound, Electromodalities, light force adjusting techniques, and soft tissue therapy, are just some of the available treatment options.
Not all treatments work for all conditions or for all individuals with the same condition, and many find that they need to try several treatment options to determine what works best for them. Chiropractic adjustments have been shown to be an effective means to treat acute lower back pain.1,2
The present stage of the condition (acute or chronic) is also a determining factor in the choice of treatment. Only a minority of back pain patients (most estimates are 1% – 10%) require surgery.
Here are two very basic and easy exercises to be done in the early stages of acute back pain. Rest and ice (20-30 minutes, repeat every 4 hours) for the first 48 hours is also a good recommendation. After 48 hours, movement and heat modalities should be attempted.
- Lie on your back with knees bent and hands resting below ribs.
- Tighten abdominal muscles to squeeze ribs down toward back.
- Be sure not to hold breath.
- Hold 5 seconds.
- Lie on your back with both knees bent.
- Perform gentle abdominal contraction (see above)
- Hold thigh behind knee and bring one knee up to chest.
- Hold 20 seconds.
- Repeat 5 times on each side.
Remember!! People with back pain need to move. Too much bed rest is not conducive to healing your back.
Consult your local Chiropractor if your back pain has not diminished within 2-3 days.
1. Assendelft W, Morton S, Yu E, Suttorp M, Shekelle P (2004). “Spinal manipulative therapy for low back pain.”. Cochrane Database Syst Rev: CD000447.
2. Cherkin D, Sherman K, Deyo R, Shekelle P (2003). “A review of the evidence for the effectiveness, safety, and cost of acupuncture, massage therapy, and spinal manipulation for back pain.”. Ann Intern Med 138 (11): 898–906.