November 29, 2011

Top 5 Causes of Back Pain

Woman's backThe back is made up of a series of bones which make up the spinal column along with nerves, fluids, muscles and more. There are many different reasons why you might end up having a pain in your back. Of the many different reasons, there are five causes of back pain which top the list. This is because of their normality in occurrence. Knowing these causes will help you to find a solution to the pain you are experiencing.

1.   Injuries – The most common causes of back pain related to injuries include sprains, strains and spasms. These can occur when you are carrying loads incorrectly, when you twist in the wrong direction or you just have too much weight. Other causes of injuries include poor posture and lifting incorrectly. Paying better attention to the support you give you back as well as how much you weigh will help to alleviate this cause.

2.    Osteoarthritis – This is also known by doctors as ‘wear and tear’ arthritis because it occurs over time. This is one of the common causes of back pain because it happens too often in those who have gone the majority of their life enduring strenuous activity or by being overweight. The cushion in between the bones in the spins will decrease and diminish until the bones literally grind against each other.

3.    Herniated Disk – This is a condition which can cause extreme back pain because of pinched nerve cause by the disk in the spine to herniate. This amounts to a rupture which will push the nerve into a place where it can be pinched. This can also affect the sciatic nerve which will cause more pain in the lower back, buttocks and upper thighs.

4.    Osteoporosis – Aging has a deteriorating effect on the bones. Calcium is lost over time and once strong bones become brittle and weak. This is one of the causes of back pain because through normal activity or heavy lifting you can experience compression fractures which will cause an immense amount of pain. One way to protect against this is to make sure to consume calcium through different sources so that you will have stronger bones for longer.

5.    Serious Health Problems – Often causes of back pain will not be able to be prevented at home by taking more vitamins. This is because there is a decent possibility that there are further underlying problems which can cause you to suffer from back pain. This includes problems like diabetes and serious infections. This is just one of the reasons why it is of the utmost importance to see your doctor immediately.

No matter what the causes of your back pain are, it seems that by being careful in daily activities, maintaining proper weight levels and eating the right foods you will be able to reduce your risk of back pain. Make sure that if you do feel chronic back pain for a week or more that you consult your doctor. They will be able to help you find a solution.

Are You Suffering From Back Pain?

back painAre You Suffering From Back Pain

Most of us complain of back ache at some time in our lives, in fact four out of five Americans suffer from some kind of back pain. These complaints may refer to the neck and shoulders, the middle of the back and the kidney area, or the base of the spine. Back pain can be either acute or chronic, that is to say of sudden and short duration, or ongoing and recurrent.

Back pain often affects other areas of our body such as our arms and legs because back pain can radiate to other areas. Our central nervous system is located in the spine, which is why some spine injuries result in paralysis, because the nerves are damaged. Most back pain and back injuries are usually of short duration, or treatable, paralysis is the exception rather than the norm.

Causes of Back Pain

Back pain is one of the biggest causes of absenteeism from work. Research studies show that a lot of lower back pain is due to bad posture and sitting in a chair with no support. In recent years there has been a trend towards what is known as ergonomic office furniture, that is to say furniture that takes into a count the user and their relationship to their surroundings. Ergonomic chairs will generally have a supportive seat, adjustable back, arms and height, further studies suggest that in companies where old office furniture has been replaced with ergonomic furniture, absenteeism drops and productivity increases. Less absenteeism and greater productivity, it has been found, is a direct result of proper seating arrangements.

Back pain can also result from bad posture generally or lifting heavy weights in the wrong manner; each of these things can put a strain on your back and result in back pain. When people fail to lift heavy objects in the proper manner it may result in an injury to the back that will need medical help and advice.
Sometimes the discs in your spine may be injured and will protrude or ‘slip’ this is often the cause of heavy lifting or moving around awkwardly. In many cases a slipped disc can occur because of general wear and tear. Arthritis is another cause of back pain and treatment will differ depending on whether you are suffering from osteoarthritis, which is the result of general wear and tear, or rheumatoid arthritis, which is an immune system disease that cripples the sufferer.

When a disc presses on a nerve it can result in sciatica, a painful condition that can send pain shooting down the leg. This is often alleviated by physiotherapy or by visiting an osteopath. Osteoporosis is where the bones of the skeleton fracture easily because they have become brittle, this is usually found in older people, but can occur in the young.

Remedies

In most cases back pain can be alleviated by over the counter medicines and minor changes in your life style. Back surgery is only undertaken in rare cases as back pain usually responds to other methods. If you suffer back pain for more than three days in a row then you should see your doctor as there may be an underlying medical problem.

You should see your doctor immediately if the pain is constant and intense and doesn’t ease when you lie down on a flat surface. You should also seek help if the pain spreads down you legs, arms or both. If you have weakness or numbness in your legs you should see your doctor or if the pain follows a fall or a blow and he or she may prescribe X-rays or a bone scan as well as stronger pain medication. Your doctor may prescribe codeine or tramadol for the pain.

Most back problems are easily treatable at home with simple remedies and better posture, if the problem continues then you should see your doctor, if only to be on the safe side.

Epidemiology of Back Pain

back painBack pain is a pervasive health problem in the United States, occurring in 85% of all persons at some point during their lifetimes. In fact, back pain is the second most common reason for visits to the doctor (the common cold is first). Primary care physicians, therefore, are in an especially important position for helping these patients. The causes of back pain are numerous, ranging from a recent injury that is easily identified to tumors that have metastasized to the spine. For these reasons, it is especially important to understand the epidemiology of back pain. To develop the most efficient and cost-effective management approach, one should be aware of the likelihood of back pain among various populations and of its risk factors and causes:
•   The annual prevalence of back pain is 15% to 20%.
•   Approximately 1% of the population is chronically disabled from back pain; another 1% is temporarily disabled.
•   Back pain is the most frequent cause of activity limitation in persons under age 45.
•   Hack pain is the fifth most common cause of hospitalization.
•   The lifetime prevalence of herniated disks is 1% to 3%.
•   Back surgery is the third most common surgical procedure.
•   The rate of disk operations is greatest in the United States, followed by the Netherlands, Great Britain, Sweden, and Finland (24).

Low Back Pain Studies
The study of low back pain is challenging because back pain is defined in many different ways, and the definitions used by one group of specialists frequently do not match those used by another. Many studies conducted by orthopedic or neurosurgical groups use sciatica, disk herniation, or results of clinical tests such as the straight leg raise test to compare patient groups. Yet when examined more closely, it is clear that even the straight leg test does not have a single definition. Other differences are over time frame (e.g.. definitions of acute and chronic back pain). Broad terms such as musculoskeletal low back pain can encompass a wide variety of diagnoses.
Adding to the complexity of comparing low back pain studies is the way back pain is tracked. Many studies use personal reports of back pain or measure time off from work, whereas others use the number of work-related injuries or workers compensation claims. Even fewer studies base their low back pain analyses on physical examination findings.
In some studies, exposure (i.e., contact with a risk factor) is evaluated. There are many ways to characterize exposure. For example: “Has the patient ever been exposed to a risk factor? One time? Many times? Can the exposure be eliminated or minimized?” Job exposure may be characterized, for instance, by the amount of time spent at work in a specific posture or lifting specific objects.
Evaluation of exposure can be both subjective and objective. It can also be challenging to compare accurately even two well – planned studies because of different methodologies used to track low back pain, time frames, variations in exposure, and the effects of recall bias.

The Role of the Medical-Legal System
Studies show that 90% of low back pain episodes resolve within 6 to 12 weeks. However, data also show that 70% to 90% of patients have recurrence, and one third of patients have persistent or intermittent low back pain after their initial episode. An obvious question arises: If 90% of low back pain improves, why do we see so many repeat patients with back pain in offices and clinics across the country? What drives patients outside the expected medical algorithm and gets them caught in a cycle of poor recovery?
Because back pain is a complex issue, one in which it is difficult to isolate causality, the simple back injury does not fall neatly into the workers compensation system. Take, for example, a woman working on an automobile assembly line who begins to experience back pain. If she feels her condition was caused or exacerbated by an occurrence at work, she can choose to file a workers compensation claim. However, as soon she makes this choice, she becomes involved in the legal process and the intricacies and rules of the insurance system. To obtain adequate compensation benefits, she may have to be concerned not only with her real pain but with assuring her physician that the pain has incapacitated her such that she can no longer work. Such a situation is just one of the legal and financial complexities that physicians must consider. Chapter 32 provides more detail on the workers compensation system and its role in back pain.

Costs
Low back pain is a significant problem not only in terms of patient suffering but in terms of economic impact. Annually, 2% of workers in the United States have compensable back injuries. In 1986, there were an estimated 175 million lost workdays and 20 million dollars in lost productivity, with more than 500,000 injuries. Today, the total estimated annual cost of back disorders ranges from $38 billion to $50 billion. Included in these estimates are direct medical expenses and indirect costs such as lost workdays and disability-related costs. Total indirect disability-related payments are estimated at two to four times the direct costs.
Using injury cost data to evaluate the magnitude of the problem may be misleading clue to the litigious environment and workers’ compensation system in the United States. However, several studies have demonstrated that a small percentage of back pain workers compensation cases account for a very large percentage of the total costs. For example, in the Hoeing retrospective study, 19% of cases accounted for 41% of the total injury costs. In California, 24% of cases made up 87% of total costs.