For many Canadians, back pain is an all too familiar feeling, with the potential to be uncomfortable and annoying or all the way to completely debilitating. People experiencing back pain tend to miss out on work, have trouble sleeping, and are unable to participate in everyday activities they love.
Back pain will impact most people at some point in their lifetime, according to the American Chiropractic Association, with a staggering 80% of the population expected to suffer from this kind of pain.
Back pain is serious and painful, but it isn’t all doom and gloom. The door has been opened for medical experts and pain relief industries to help people treat and cope with back pain. If you’re suffering from back pain, your chiropractor is a great place to start, as they can restore function and stability to your spine.
But where does back pain come from? In this article, we’re going to break down some of the more common reasons and risk factors that influence back pain, along with the various types of pain.
Types of back pain
Back pain can present itself with a range of symptoms with varying degrees of pain. Some people will just experience back pain when they bend, lift, twist or make awkward movements, while others will be in pain when they’re completely at rest. Some back pain dissipates with activity and movement. Some back pain gets so bad that it generates numbness, tingling, general weakness and pain in other areas.
Back pain is typically divided into three categories, with the main characterization being how long the pain sticks around for:
- Acute back pain
This kind of back pain comes out of the blue seemingly without reason, but it isn’t permanent. Acute back pain has usually come and gone in a matter of days or a couple weeks.
- Subacute back pain
Subacute back pain also comes as a surprise, but lasts much longer than acute back pain. This type of pain is known to last multiple weeks.
- Chronic back pain
Chronic back pain is the longest lasting brand of back pain, which lasts longer than a couple months or even years. This pain may start slow as well, as opposed to acute and subacute which come on suddenly.
Back pain causes
Back pain may be affecting your life for dozens of reasons, but the most common source is mechanical or structural issues with your back. Aside from the spine, your back is filled with a complicated network of discs, muscles, ligaments and tendons, and when something gets out of place your nerves can be left vulnerable. Here’s a breakdown of some of the causes of back pain:
- Sprains and strains
These are common injuries that occur when playing sports, running, or just generally leading an active lifestyle. Both can be quite painful, but sprains affect the ligaments and strains affect the muscle or tendon.
- Herniated discs
This happens when one of the discs in your back is forced to compress due to some event or impact. The disc then stimulates the nerves in your back, causing pain.
Scoliosis is a sideways curve in the spine. The cause is typically unknown, but the curve can be present in any area of the spine, forcing it left or right.
- Degenerative disc disease
As you become older, the discs in your back between your vertebrae tend to break down and leave nearby nerves vulnerable.
This condition happens when a vertebra in your back slips out of its normal place and gradually moves out of alignment.
Arthritis is another word for inflammation, and is used to describe various conditions that affect joints and tissues – and the back is no exception.
- Ankylosing spondylitis
Ankylosing spondylitis is a specific brand of arthritis that targets the joints and ligaments in your spine. This condition causes everything to go stiff or even fuse together in more serious situations.
Pre-existing medical conditions
When infections occur in your spine or the discs between, pain can be felt in the surrounding areas of your back.
Osteoporosis is a bone disease that can happen when the structure of your back changes, or when bone mass decreases.
Women who are pregnant are often prone to back pain, as the structure and physical demands of the body change.
Tumors are rare, but can cause back pain when they develop on the spine or in surrounding areas.
Fibromyalgia is a long-lasting condition that causes pain throughout the body including your back. We still don’t know what causes this condition, but it also produces extreme fatigue and trouble sleeping.
Are you prone to back pain?
Everyone is prone to back pain to be sure, but some people are more at risk than others. Many risk factors depend on lifestyle choices, but that’s not all there is to it. Here are some of the components that can affect your susceptibility to back pain:
Gaining unnecessary weight can be unhealthy for a number of reasons, but the extra weight also places pressure on your back and posture.
- Fitness level
If you aren’t physically fit, your body will have a tougher time supporting itself. Developing the muscle around your stomach and back is a great way to support your back long-term. On the flip side, over exercising can cause back pain as well, so it’s important to find a sustainable balance.
- Stress level
Back pain tends to be worse among people struggling with high stress levels, anxiety, depression and lack of sleep.
Like many conditions, you become more susceptible to back pain as you age. Managing your weight, fitness, range of motion and stress levels is a great way to counteract age.
Some people work jobs that are physically demanding, which usually carry higher risk of injury, but even desk jobs can lead to back pain if your setup isn’t optimal.
Are you experiencing back pain? If so, schedule an introductory meeting with your chiropractor, who can help you pinpoint the area, type and source of pain while providing a treatment that fits your needs. Reach out to Sardis Chiropractic today to schedule a consultation.