As children, we often overheard our grandparents complain of back aches and back pain, and so we tend to associate back pain with old age. However, back pain isn’t necessarily a sign of aging and it can afflict just about anyone because of the various possible causes of back pain. You may need to use more than one treatment method for back pain and this will depend almost entirely on the cause of the pain and the nature of the injury. Back pain could refer to any kind of pain that afflicts any area of the back, including the lower, upper, or middle back. Though lower back pain is a lot more prevalent, there are some people who tend to suffer from upper back pain or middle back pain on a regular basis.
The severity of back pain can vary greatly among different individuals, and while it may simply be a bit of a bother to some, it could be almost debilitating to others. In some cases, the pain could last for a few hours or up to a day, but it is also very common for people to suffer from pain that lasts for days; this is known as chronic back pain. Back pain can at times be indicative of a far more serious back problem and should never be treated lightly. Back pain is one of the most common ailments today and statistics suggest that 85 percent of all adults in the United States will suffer from low back pain at least once in their lifetime. Since you are reading this page, you probably fall into this category and are searching for a cure for back pain. Before you try to find a way to treat your back pain, it is important that you understand the symptoms and the causes of back pain.
The location and severity of back pain depends on several factors, such as the individuals age, medical condition, level of physical fitness as well as the underlying cause. Fortunately, in most cases, upper, middle or lower back pain does not stem from any serious condition and can be managed with the help of medication, simple remedies, exercises, and so on. Only a serious condition such as a slipped or ruptured disc requires surgery. Diagnosis is therefore one of the most important prerequisites to successful treatment. If you suffer from severe back pain on a regular basis you should consult a doctor for exercises, diet, and lifestyle changes that can help prevent recurrent back pain.
Symptoms of Back Pain
Back pain is not a condition but it is a symptom of an underlying problem. You may experience back pain due to an injury or a muscle pull. You may also experience accompanying symptoms such as neck pain or headaches depending on the cause of your back pain. It is important for anyone who suffers from frequent back pain to be well informed about the symptoms of back pain. If you do suffer from frequent bouts of back pain or a very severe back pain, it would be advisable to seek a thorough medical diagnosis.
So what are the common symptoms of back pain? The symptoms of upper back pain are quite varied and may include muscle spasms, discomfort while inhaling, weakness in the arms, restricted neck movements, and a pinching feeling between the shoulder blades. These upper back symptoms could be an indication of an injury to a disc which is in the upper part of the spine.
Thoracic pain is the term used to describe upper back or middle back pain. Some of the most common accompanying middle back pain symptoms are soreness to the touch, difficulty in performing simple activities, stiffness, and restriction in body movements.
- One of the reasons that lower back pain is a lot more common than upper back pain is that there are several health problems that could cause this symptom. Conditions that have been known to trigger pain in the lower back include pregnancy, bladder infections, kidney problems, and even cancer. In addition to back pain, pregnancy generally causes: Nausea and vomiting
- Cravings or aversion towards certain foods
- Tingling sensation, soreness, and heaviness in the breasts
- Missed periods
- Vaginal discharge or spotting
- Cramps in the abdomen
In the same way, apart from lower back pain, kidney symptoms usually include:
- Increase in the urge to urinate
- Changes in the appearance of the urine, as it becomes bubbly or foamy
- Presence of blood in the urine
- Swelling in the feet, ankles, face, feet and hands
- Excess fatigue
- Rash on the skin or itching
- Metallic taste in the mouth
- Shortness of breath
- Pain in the legs and flanks
Along with lower back pain, bladder symptoms also include:
- Increased urge to urinate and frequent urination
- Incontinence Blood in the urine
- Dysuria or a burning sensation while urinating
- Foul smell in the urine
- Cloudiness or other changes in the color of the urine
Though rare, back pain can also be an indication of lung cancer. Some of the other lung cancer induced back pain symptoms include swelling in the face or neck, respiratory infections, hoarseness in the voice, and recurrent pneumonia.
Unfortunately, since back pain is a fairly common ailment, most people do not realize how serious it can be and therefore they disregard the problem. However, in case the back pain lasts for an extended period or is accompanied by other signs, it is important to consult a medical health care provider for an accurate diagnosis.
Causes of Back Pain
We generally ignore back pain, and only seek medical attention when the pain becomes unbearable. In many cases, timely treatment would help to resolve the issue immediately. However, the prolonged period of neglect aggravates the condition to a point where extensive and aggressive treatment is necessary. Mild back pain that acts up occasionally is usually trivial and may simply be caused by muscle pulls, stiffness or muscle fatigue. But back pain that occurs with increasing frequency or greater severity is usually indicative of a more serious problem.
What causes lower back pain or upper and middle back pain? Some of the most common causes for back pain, especially lower back pain could include:
- Ruptured discs or bulging discs
- Skeletal irregularities
- Spinal infections
- Cancer in the spine
Pain in different parts of the lower back could be the result of different factors. Hernia, irritable bowel syndrome, muscle strains, kidney diseases, injuries, improper posture and sciatica or nerve problems can result in lower right side back pain. Lower right side back pain causes difficulty in carrying out simple everyday chores and can become a serious health issue if it is ignored. Lower left back pain causes include muscle problems, herniated discs, wear and tear related to aging and lifting heavy objects.
Most of the common middle back pain causes overlap with the causes of lower back pain. However, many people suffer from pain in the middle back because of poor postures maintained when seated or sleeping. People prone to muscle cramps or spasms are also more likely to suffer from pain in the middle back.
Kidney infections or kidney stones can result in intense kidney pain along with other symptoms. Kidney pain causes immense discomfort as it manifests as a stabbing pain in the lower back.
Remedies for Back Pain
It is common to see most people take over-the-counter painkillers to relieve lower back pain. However, there are a few side effects that are associated with these medicines and therefore, most people prefer natural back pain remedies. There are many back pain home remedies that are known to be very effective. Natural back pain solutions include not just curative remedies, but also herbs, therapies, and exercises which can prevent the pain from recurring. Given below are some of the most widely recommended natural back pain healing methods:
- Hot and Cold Therapy: Many people seek immediate relief from severe back pain, by placing a hot water bag on the area. This normally gets rid of the pain within a short while. It has been seen that applying an ice pack on the back can also bring about the same results.
- Herbs: There are many herbs that have anti-inflammatory properties, which is what makes them effective upper, lower, and middle back pain remedies. Some of the most widely recommended herbs include willow bark and devils claw, which need to be taken orally. Pureed capsicum, applied topically, can also be very effective in relieving back pain as it contains capsaicin which helps to numb the affected area.
- Massage Therapy: Massages have been known to relieve aches and pains but people should make sure that they only visit a certified masseuse. It is important to inform the masseuse of all details concerning the type of back pain as well as the cause.
- Exercises: There are many back pain exercises like low impact aerobic exercises that can help to ease and prevent back pain. Apart from stretches for back pain, most doctors also advise people to walk or swim regularly.
Diet for Back Pain
Your diet can play an important part in the prevention of back pain. It is important for people to maintain a healthy body weight, to reduce the chances of back pain. Moreover, back pain nutrition facts can help you understand nutritional requirements that specifically target your spine and muscle health.
How does a diet for back pain help?
- Back Pain and Vitamin D: Studies indicate that the deficiency of Vitamin D leads to idiopathic chronic pain in the lower back. Hence, many people who are suffering from chronic back pain problems are advised to take Vitamin D supplements.
- Back Pain and Calcium: It is a well-known fact that calcium deficiency can cause the bones to weaken and become brittle, which also includes the spine. Hence, increasing the intake of calcium can help strengthen all the bones, including the spine, which reduces back pain problems.
- Back pain and Fish Oil: Fish oil is high in two fatty acids known as DHA and EPA, which help to relieve pain in the joints. Therefore, many people are asked to either increase their intake of fish or take fish oil supplements for back pain relief.
Suggestion for Back Pain
Medication, herbs and exercises are great for alleviating pain in the back. However, there are many other tips for back pain relief that you can also use for quicker results. Moreover, these tips are very effective in preventing recurrent bouts of back pain. Some of the common tips for back pain relief include:
- Giving up on unhealthy habits like smoking
- Using the right posture while sitting, standing and even sleeping
- Going for regular checkups to a chiropractor
- Getting an adequate amount of rest, sleep and exercise each day
- Practicing certain forms or asanas (poses) in Yoga like the Half Revolved Belly Pose (Ardha Jathara Parivarttanasana), the Cobra pose and the Triangle pose
- Relaxation techniques like meditation or deep breathing to relieve stress
These tips for back pain relief only reduce the severity and frequency of back pain. You would need to visit your doctor to ensure that your back pain is not a symptom of a more serious health condition.