If you’ve found this blog, you’re likely finding yourself asking ‘why does my back hurt?’. Maybe you’re struggling to perform your daily tasks, and putting off your favorite physical activities – it probably even hurts right now.
But you’re not alone – back pain is one of the most common complaints that doctors see, and it’s no surprise when you look at just how complex the structure of your spine is. Made up of 33 vertebrae and 31 pairs of nerves, before we even begin to consider the muscles and tissues that surround it, there’s a whole host of problems that could be causing your pain.
What Causes Back Pain?
Your chronic back pain could be caused by a range of things, from a congenital illness like spinal stenosis, through to car accidents and heavy lifting with improper posture.
Each of these ‘causes’ have something in common though, and that’s what they could be doing to the spinal cord and ultimately your intervertebral discs – also known as your ‘shock absorbers’.
With severe injury or illness, your discs can move, pinching your spinal nerves and sending pain signals to your brain, also leading to headaches, tingling sensations and numbness of extremities in some cases. Some of the most common causes of this kind of nerve pinching are:
Degenerative Disc Disease
Degenerative disc disease (DDD) is one of the most common causes of back pain, and essentially is what it sounds like. The discs in our spine break down naturally as we age from the normal wear-and-tear of life, becoming compressed and no longer absorbing shocks to the spine.
A herniated disc, also known as a ruptured disc or a slipped disc, is when a fragment of the jelly-like center (the nucleus pulposus) is pushed out of the tough exterior (the annulus fibrosus) and into the spinal canal. This may cause irritation, discomfort, or pain as the vertebrae are not as separated or cushioned as they should be.
A bulging disc is caused by a shift in the disc that separates the vertebrae. Unlike a herniated disc, a bulging disc is not damaged or ruptured – it’s simply out of place. This can be the result of the natural aging process or because of an injury.
Vertebral misalignment refers to when your bones are not properly aligned. This mainly displays itself in one of two ways when looking at the spine. First, there is scoliosis which is a gentle curve of the spine to the left or right. There is also spondylolisthesis which appears as a sharp forward shifting caused by a lumbar vertebrae slipping out of place.
Don’t let your pain get worse, take our free pain assessment tool today to get started on your path to being pain free.
How Can I Treat My Back Pain?
If you’re experiencing one of these conditions, it is important to know that the pain will not rectify itself. For long term pain relief, it’s critical that you seek the care of a medical professional to develop a custom treatment plan based on your needs, so you can return to your normal daily life.
Some of the treatments that your doctor may use as part of the plan could be:
A physical therapist may be one of your treatment options to help regain your mobility and restore your normal movement from pre-spinal disc degeneration. This form of treatment features a custom exercise plan designed to help improve your posture and relieve the pressure being placed on spinal nerves due to compressed discs.
This is a gentle nonsurgical approach to reducing pain caused by your discs. Using a motorized traction board, your doctor will help you to stretch your spine, allowing air and fluid into the pockets between each vertebrae to encourage healing.
In conjunction with some of these treatments designed to help alleviate the pressure on the discs and nerves, medication is often an option to help you manage the pain. While medication is not a one-size-fits-all fix, it does allow for normal life to essentially resume while we target the root cause of the pain.
And as a final resort, your doctor may turn to surgery. This is not necessary for all cases, but if conventional treatment methods aren’t working for you or make your pain worse, surgery is an option. You should discuss this option with your doctor to understand exactly what surgery might look like for you.
Ultimately, while there’s a variety of reasons your back could be hurting, the pain is treatable and it doesn’t need to stop your day in its tracks. The proper treatment for you will depend on the severity of your condition and your medical history. Step one should always be scheduling time with a medical professional for proper diagnosis and assessment. If you’re experiencing back pain, get in touch with our team today.