According to Web MD, at some point about 80 per cent of Americans experience some form of back pain. "It comes in many forms, from lower back pain, middle back pain, or upper back pain to low back pain with sciatica," the website states. The pain can typically be alleviated with pain medications or pain killers.
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Describing the Pain
Back pain can be described as mild, severe, sharp, throbbing, achy and even acute or chronic.
Some symptoms include a nagging achy or stiff feeling, a sharp localised pain anywhere along the spine, an ache at the middle of your back or an inability to stand straight.
You can also experience low back pain with sciatica. According to Web MD, symptoms of this include a pain in the rear or leg, a burning or tingling down the leg, weakness or numbness, a constant pain on one side of the rear or a shooting pain making it hard to stand up.
According to E Medicine Health, "common causes of back pain involve disease or injury to the muscles, bones and/or nerves of the spine." Additionally, the pain can begin somewhere else (i.e., the abdomen or chest) and can travel to the back. Specifically, some causes are: nerve root syndromes (i.e., sciatica), herniated discs, spondylosis, spinal disc degeneration, arthritis, skeletal irregularities (i.e. curves abnormally as in scoliosis) and osteoporosis.
Chipped Disc and Back Pain
Sometimes a cause of back pain is a chipped, bulging or ruptured disc. As per the Mayo Clinic, the discs "act as cushions between the vertebrae in your spine. Sometimes, the soft material inside a disc may bulge out of place or rupture and press on a nerve." The same holds true for a chipped disc--when that part of your vertebrae is injured, it can cause excruciating back pain.
Exams and Tests
When you visit a health care professional, the first thing that she will do is obtain a full medical history and perform a complete physical exam. A variety of tests will also be performed so that the back pain can be properly diagnosed. Some of these tests include X-rays, MRI, nerve tests (i.e. electromyogram which tests electrical activity and for nerve root damage) and CT scan.
The following is a list of treatments for back pain, as per Web MD: rest, ice, physical therapy, over the counter medications (e.g., Tylenol or Advil) or prescribed anti-inflammatory medications or painkillers (e.g., Vicodin or Percocet).
There are things you can do to help prevent back pain, including increasing exercise, build muscle strength and flexibility, quit smoking and maintain a healthy weight. Mayo Clinic, as well as E Medicine Health, also suggest using proper body mechanics, such as when you stand, sit down and lift objects. When you stand, make sure you stand with a neutral pelvic position and when you sit down, be aware of your posture. When you lift objects, lift with your legs, not your back.
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