Lower back pain is a huge problem. According to one study by Georgetown, 65 million Americans of all ages report back pain, with 16 million adults diagnosed as having chronic back pain. Such pain can lead to a lower quality of life, but many of its symptoms can be treated.
TYPES OF LOWER BACK PAIN
Most people who suffer from lower back pain describe it as shooting, burning, or a dull ache. There are two kinds of pain: acute and chronic.
Acute back pain lasts days to a few weeks. It normally subsides on its own via self-care without residual loss of function. Rarely, it could take a few months for the pain to disappear.
Chronic back pain lasts 12 weeks or longer. Even acute lower back pain is treated.
HERE’S HOW YOUR BACK IS BUILT
Your lower back has five vertebrae in the lumbar region, each designed to help support most of the weight of your upper body. The spaces between the vertebrae are supported by circular, rubbery pads (intervertebral discs), which act like natural shock absorbers for your spinal column to cushion bones when your body moves. Ligaments and tendons play a role, while 31 pairs of spinal cord nerves control body movements and signal transmission between body and brain.
Lower back pain can have almost innumerable causes, but the most common are congenital injuries, degenerative problems, nerve and spinal cord issues, and non-spinal sources.
- Congenital–skeletal irregularities, spina bifida
- Injuries – sprains, traumatic injury
- Degenerative problems – intervertebral disc degeneration, spondylosis, arthritis, or inflammatory diseases
- Nerve and spinal cord issues – spinal nerve compression, sciatica, spinal stenosis, osteoporosis
- Nom-spinal sources – kidney stones, endometriosis, fibromyalgia, tumors, pregnancy
Fortunately, many pain symptoms are treatable non-invasively with therapies like ketamine.
- Age, as lower back pain starts typically between 30 and 50 years old
- Poor physical fitness level
- Weight gain, obesity, quickly gaining significant amounts of weight can stress the back, leading to lower back pain
- Job requirements (like heavy lifting, pushing, or pulling)
- Mental health issues (such as anxiety and depression)
- Smoking, which restricts blood and oxygen flow to discs in your back
- Extremely heavy backpacks, particularly amongst school-age children
- Psychological factors like mood swings and stress
WHAT TO DO FOR LOWER BACK PAIN
Medicine or chiropractic procedures to treat lower back pain isn’t for everyone. Some people may want to try home remedies, and there are many to choose from.
- Try stretching exercises and work to strengthen your muscles (knee-to-chest stretches, rotational stretches, cat stretches, and others).
- Work on posture. Slouching while walking or sitting is a recipe for lower back pain, so don’t do it. Consciously remind yourself to sit up straight or walk with your head up.
- Seek out licensed physical therapy.
- Maintain a healthy weight, based on your height, bone structure, and other factors. A body-mass index over 30 indicates obesity, so talk with a doctor or nutritionist on ways to lose weight and maintain a weight that’s right for you.
- If you smoke, quit. Some research says people who smoke are four times more likely than non-smokers to develop degenerative disc disease or other spinal trouble.
- Ask your doctor or clinician about the possibility of trying ketamine infusion therapy. This might be a good option in the absence of physical or medical causes for your lower back pain. Ketamine is known to reduce symptoms of mental health issues and psychological problems, both of which can lead to or exacerbate low back pain.
- Cold or hot patches are another option. Most can be bought at pharmacies and big-box retailers, and some may be covered by insurance.
For more information, talk to your doctor about the best ways to treat low back pain.
DIAGNOSIS & TREATMENT
Most commonly, lower back pain is first diagnosed by a medical doctor to find an underlying cause for your symptoms. This may include tests and procedures (discogram, imaging tests, blood tests, bone scans, electrodiagnostic tests, myelograms, and others), and your healthcare provider may ask about severity, location, frequency of the pain, and possible triggers.
If your medical exam doesn’t find a cause, you may be referred to a mental healthcare specialist. Your symptoms will be diagnosed and compared to psychological criteria before a decision is made.
Lower back pain may be treatable with store-bought pain relievers, ketamine, or chiropractic procedures.
If you suffer from lower back pain, you know the problems it can cause – physically and psychologically. While some people have a higher tolerance for pain, not everyone does – and seeking help isn’t a sign of weakness. Contact us today to learn more about treatment options that can help you find relief.