Back pain is the most common complaint by patients and is the number one reason people schedule doctor’s appointments and cause of missed work in the United States. In fact, the Mayo Clinic suggests that about 80 percent of people will suffer from back pain at least once in their lifetime.
Back pain affects people of all ages, sexes, and medical status, but seems to be predominant in ages 33-55. This may be due to the fact that most back injuries are lifting or accident related and this is the age range of people doing most of the activities that result in back injury.
The back is a complex structure made up of muscles, ligaments, tendons, discs, and bones. Anyone of these structures are subject to insult, injury, or disease that may result in back pain. Common causes of back pain are strained muscles, strained ligaments, and muscle spasms. Most frequently strains and muscle spasms are caused by lifting something that is too heavy, improperly, or awkwardly. Sudden force or jolts caused by falls or car accidents can cause herniated discs or vertebral fracture, which can take much more time to heal.
Structural problems and disease that result in back pain include ruptured or bulging discs, sciatica, arthritis, scoliosis, osteoporosis, cauda equina syndrome, cancer, shingles, or infection. Risk factors for developing back pain include stress, pregnancy, older age, anxiety, depression, being female, smoking, obesity, living a sedentary lifestyle, and strenuous physical work.
Activities that can contribute to back pain include everyday movements such as bending, lifting, pushing, pulling, carrying something, standing, twisting, stretching, driving, straining, and even coughing and sneezing! Proper body mechanics and maintaining good posture are critical to reducing back injury.
Because the back is the canal by which nerves are distributed throughout the body and is attached to the brain stem, back pain can manifest in various ways or be accompanied by other symptoms. Aching in the lower back, or lumbar spine, is the most common symptom. However, back pain can also cause pain down legs or tingling in the buttocks or leg. Cervical spine pain can cause neck, shoulder, and arm pain, as well as tingling in the arms and hands. Depending on the area of injury, back pain may be accompanied by urinary or fecal incontinence, fever, or weight loss.
Diagnosing back pain will begin with a thorough evaluation including background and identification of any obvious injury related to a specific injury.
A head-to-toe physical may help identify the specific area injured. An x-ray may be able ordered to show any fractures and the alignment of the spine.
MRIs or CT scans can show the soft tissue injuries as well as tendon, nerve, or ligament damage.
A bone scan may be used to identify issues within the bone tissue.
Electromyography is conducted to test the electrical impulses produced by nerves in response to muscles, which can help identify nerve compression.
Back pain treatment includes visiting a chiropractor or a physical therapist or both. Other options include spine surgery or osteopathy. Massage, yoga, and acupuncture are also options. Pain medications or cortisone injections may be used in conjunction with therapies. Back pain treatment options will vary based on the cause of pain and the structure that is damaged. The majority of back pain resolves without medical intervention.
The approach at the Injury Center of the Glades is to help restore a more normal motion and position of affected spinal bones with specific chiropractic adjustments. The simplicity and success of this approach have been documented in numerous research projects and has helped many patients avoid risky surgery. Many research projects have shown that conservative chiropractic care is safer and often more effective than back surgery. Dr. Cohen often consults with neurologists, radiologists, and orthopedic specialists when designing care programs for patients with disc involvement.