Each year millions of people suffer from an episode of back pain. It can arise from trauma, lifting, bending at the waist; or it can suddenly appear unprovoked. Back pain affects young and old and prevents people from doing their day to day activities.
Most people will have a minor back problem at one time or another. Our body movements usually do not cause problems, but it’s not surprising that symptoms develop from everyday wear and tear, overuse, or injury. Back problems and injuries often occur during sports or recreational activities, work-related tasks, or home projects.
Back pain can cause problems anywhere from the neck to the tailbone (coccyx). The back includes:
The bones and joints of the spine (vertebrae). The discs that separate the vertebrae and absorb shock as you move. The muscles and ligaments that hold the spine together.
Back injuries are the most common cause of back pain. Injuries frequently occur when you use your back muscles in activities that you do not do very often, such as lifting a heavy object or doing yard work.
Minor injuries also may occur from tripping, falling a short distance, or excessive twisting of the spine. Severe back injuries may result from car accidents, falls from significant heights, direct blows to the back or the top of the head, a high-energy fall onto the buttocks, or a penetrating injury such as a stab wound.
Although back pain is often caused by an injury to one or more of the structures of the back, it may have another cause. Some people are more likely to develop back pain than others.
Factors that increase your risk for back pain and injury include getting older, having a family history of back pain, sitting for long periods, lifting or pulling heavy objects, or having a degenerative disease such as osteoporosis.
Low back pain may occur in children and teenagers, but children and teens are less likely to see a doctor for low back pain. Although most back problems occur in adults who are between the ages of 20 and 50, back problems in children who are younger than 20 and adults who are older than 50 are more likely to have a serious cause.
Pain from an injury may be sudden and severe. Bruising and swelling may develop soon after the injury. Pain from an acute injury usually does not last longer than 6 weeks.
Acute injuries include injuries to the ligaments or muscles in the back, such as a sprain or a strain.
A fracture or dislocation of the spine can cause a spinal cord injury that may lead to permanent paralysis. It is important to immobilize and transport the injured person correctly to reduce the risk of permanent paralysis.
In the case of a torn or ruptured disc if the tear is large enough the jellylike material inside the disc may leak out (herniate) and press against a nerve.
You may not remember a specific injury, especially if your symptoms began gradually or during everyday activities. These injuries occur most often from improper movement or posture while lifting, standing, walking, or sitting, or even while sleeping. Symptoms can include pain, muscle spasms, and stiffness.
Good posture is essential to health. Your brain expends a lot of energy controlling and coordinating hundreds of muscle groups whenever posture is “sub-optimal.” Less than optimal posture can include a high shoulder, a forward stooping head, a rotated trunk (torso), a hunch back, a high hip, and a side-bent neck. Abnormal posture can result from trauma (like a car accident or fall), repetitive movements (like turning your neck towards your monitor), and certain bad postural habits (like sleeping on your stomach).
Imagine a straight line drawn from between your eyes down to your feet: in order to have good posture, your body mass should be evenly divided on either side of the line when viewed from the front. When viewed from the side, a straight line should be able to pass through your earlobe, your shoulder joint, your hip socket, and your ankle.
Poor posture can lead to several problems: It can accelerate joint wear and tear (osteoarthritis), due to uneven weight distribution. It can make breathing difficult by interfering with proper ribcage expansion. This can result in fatigue and other symptoms.
Poor posture, particularly extreme anterior (forward) head carriage can cause your muscles to feel sore along the back of your neck, shoulders and upper back. It can even lead to lower back pain as your spine struggles to counterbalance the forward position of the head.
We can help improve posture with posture-correction chiropractic spinal adjustments and specific, targeted exercises.