Why does my back hurt?
Both men and women experience daily back pain. If back pain continues to ache for months and years, this condition may be considered chronic back pain. If you feel that your initial achy back is getting worse or spreading through the body, your chronic back pain may be a more serious health condition. Chronic back pain varies depending on the patient’s health and which part of the back is experiencing pain. Some patients will feel chronic pain throughout the entire back while others will feel excruciating pain in a certain portion of the spine.
Why does my upper back hurt?
The upper back includes the top of the spinal cord and the shoulders. Even though patients can identify where they are feeling back pain, they may not be able to tell where the pain starts. For the upper back, many times patients’ back pain results from initial stress or tension in the neck. Pain can spread to the neck, shoulders, and rest of the back. Any extensive pressure to the upper spine can lead to upper back pain.
Why does my middle back hurt?
Since the spinal cord stretches between the neck and tailbone, chronic pain in the middle back can truly disable patients. The middle portion of the back and spine are responsible for carrying the weight of the ribcage, heart, and lungs. Pain in the middle back is also known as thoracic pain. Large muscles and ligaments cover the back so the middle back is right at the center and a starting point for these pain symptoms.
Why does my lower back hurt?
The lower back can suffer from chronic pain as well. Some patients have this lower back pain more toward the right or left side of the lower back. Like the upper back, chronic pain conditions can spread from the lower back to the hips and legs. The lower back, or lumbar spine, can be extremely painful for patients when sitting. An immense amount of pressure feels concentrated on the lumbar spine when chronic lower back pain is the main problem.
What causes chronic back pain?
Chronic back pain basically means that your back pain is so strong and persistent that it can no longer be tolerated. Unfortunately for patients, this pain can often limit your activity to your favorite hobbies, daily plans, or family events. By discovering the actual cause of your pain, patients can treat their condition altogether. Patients can manage minor aches and pains, but the chronic pain usually has serious causes that should be addressed by a pain management specialist.
Some causes of chronic back pain include:
- Degenerative Disc Disease– The spinal cord discs begin to wear down which leads to vertebrae bones rubbing together throughout the entire spine.
- Herniated Disc– Pain, commonly seen in the lower back, that occurs when a patient feels a deep pressure that even extends into the legs.
- Lumbar Spine Stenosis– Numbness felt in the legs after long periods of sitting. This condition mainly affects patients who are over 65-years-old.
- Osteoarthritis– Pain from the weakening of cartilage in-between discs of the spinal cord.
- Osteoporosis– Bones of the spinal cord start to weaken and lose their structure.
- Pinched Nerve– Nerves around the spine that are tightly pressed or pinched between bones and discs.
- Sciatica– Sharp pain felt in the lower back caused when a disc presses against nerves around the lumbar spine.
- Scoliosis– The spinal cord is curved and linked with overall pain. Patients with scoliosis are usually born with this condition.
How do I know if I have chronic back pain?
Even though chronic back pain is a common symptom felt by men and women, there are certain qualities that make some people more prone to this type of pain. Remember, it can always start as minor aches and pains. So, if you already suffer from occasional back pain, your pain can turn into a chronic condition. Factors that affect your chance of experiencing a chronic condition are:
- Body weight
- Poor posture
- Physical activity
- Previous back injuries
- Previous back surgeries
- Family medical history/genetics
What are chronic back pain symptoms?
The back includes your spine along with several muscles and hundreds of nerves. Since the back consists of so many nerves, there are different types of symptoms. Each symptom is painful for patients. However, it is normal to experience your pain as some of the following symptoms:
- Pins and needles
- Inability to walk or stand up
- Sore to even the lightest touch
- Severe pain in the upper, mid or lower back
- Pain spreading to the neck, shoulder, arms, hips or legs
How do I prevent chronic back pain?
Prevention is one of the easiest ways to handle chronic back pain. Preventing pain in the first place, or controlling pain before it turns chronic, can save patients from missing out on life because of their symptoms. Patients can prevent chronic back pain if they catch the symptoms early, and incorporate the following:
- Live a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise
- Eat a well-balanced diet and stay within an average weight
- Cut back on smoking and eventually quit altogether
- Avoid heavy lifting or learn how to properly lift large weight
- Stretch your back and limbs to strengthen the muscles
- Practice good posture when standing or sitting
What can I do at home for chronic back pain?
Chronic back pain can be so deep and painful that patients base their actions on one thing: their aching back. Before bed, patients often seek relief for their chronic back pain. Pain symptoms may be so severe that patients have trouble sleeping through the night. Patients may also deal with pain while working. From home, there are some remedies that can help ease the pain right before bed and immediately after work. Home treatments like:
- Lying down with an ice pack on the back
- Taking over-the-counter pain relief medicine
- Resting in bed with a heating pad underneath your back
- Rubbing or massaging the part of the back that is feeling chronic pain
- Losing weight to relieve any extra pressure on the spine and back muscles
At-home treatments are more for temporary back pain relief. If patients find themselves using these tactics daily or multiple times weekly, there may be a specific cause that they can eliminate with further chronic back pain treatment handled by a trained back pain specialist.