Coping with nagging backache.
HEALTH Your spine connects your upper and lower body. There are 24 moveable bones called vertebrae. The lumbar (lower back) section of the spine bears most of the weight of the body. So when it’s injured you can feel pain standing or bending. Some associate back pain with aging but there are many causes. Pregnancy, improperly lifting a heavy box, a bad fall, an automobile accident, or improper lumbar support while sitting can cause it. Regardless of the source, backache can be debilitating. Pain is exacerbated when combined with arthritis conditions like osteoporosis. Sufferers may find themselves going to bed at odd times as an escape from pain, which disrupts the circadian rhythm.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “The lifetime prevalence of non-specific (common) low back pain is estimated at 60% to 70% in industrialized countries (one-year prevalence 15% to 45%, adult incidence 5% per year).”
Trip to “The Bone Cracker”
Some people fear chiropractors. But the truth is, that if a disc is impinging on a nerve, relief is available. Allowing time for swelling to subside, you could be pain-free within a week.
Though improper alignment can usually be corrected by a good chiropractor, disc inflammation is another story. Following an examination by your chiropractor, you might hear the disappointing words, “There’s nothing to align. One (or more) of your discs is inflamed.” This is the point when you may wish all you needed was realignment. What do you do besides suffer when there’s inflammation without disc misplacement?
The Road to Recovery
As is the case with most pain, the answer begins with the least invasive remedy. The most comfortable solution is bed rest. Unfortunately, it is also the least productive for three reasons: 1) Though relieving pressure, you are not getting any work done. 2) Sleeping during the day interferes with rest during the night. Insomnia can lead to drug dependency. 3) Muscles that support the spine can atrophy. This puts more stress on the spine when you need to lift or bend.
Commonly, modified duty is suggested for disc inflammation. Non-prescription anti-inflammatory drugs can reduce swelling. Get up from sitting or lying down every two hours and walk for 10 to 20 minutes. For five to 10 minutes per day perform stretching and exercises like planking to strengthen your core muscles and squats to strengthen your quads. Avoid lifting packages over 20 pounds and when necessary to bend, use your knees instead of your back. To lessen low back pain, select a chair with good lumbar support when sitting.
Don’t expect immediate healing. Wear a back brace if necessary. Monitor how you feel every couple of months. Some pregnant women experience significant relief with Kinesio taping. If the pain continues to interfere with daily activities after six months, your physician may offer prescription medication. After a year or so of little improvement, an epidural may be suggested. If you are an athlete or your job involves physical labor, the schedule for recommending an epidural may be much shorter. The gelatinous cortisone sticks to the inflamed disc for time-released localized anti-inflammatory medication at the source of the pain. This treatment has brought relieve to some patients for a year or two. (Caution: Cortisone has adverse reactions with repeated use.)
Discitis is an infection in the intervertebral disc space that may spread hematologically from a urinary or respiratory infection or from a post-operative staph infection. It can be caused due to spinal tuberculosis.
Different terms may be used to describe a herniated disc. A bulging disc (protrusion) occurs when the disc annulus remains intact, but forms an outpouching that can press against the nerves. A true herniated disc (also called a ruptured or slipped disc) occurs when the disc annulus cracks or ruptures, allowing the gel-filled center to squeeze out. Sometimes the herniation is so severe that a free fragment occurs, meaning a piece has broken completely free from the disc and is in the spinal canal.
Nurses can injure their backs while lifting patients. Brittney Wilson, BSN, RN (a.k.a. The Nerdy Nurse) offers tips to her profession for avoiding back injury. These include strengthening your back with exercise, use of good lifting techniques, getting help from co-workers, and making use of lifting equipment.
Because there are many causes of back pain, it is important for your doctor to do a thorough history and physical examination to determine if your back pain is being caused by a spinal disc problem. Backache caused by muscle injury or pregnancy requires different remedies. Surgery is almost always not recommended. It is usually a last resort to stay A Bit More Healthy.