Spine pain is a common condition – with most people complaining about back pain at some point in their lives. In fact, an estimated 80% of people will have low back pain at least once, but often multiple times.
For some patients, it’s an occasional flare-up after specific activities. But other patients have ongoing back pain that never seems to go away.
What type of spine pain are you experiencing? For example, you might have an injury from an accident or a slip on the ice. Or, maybe the pain is acting up because of seemingly trivial activities, such as being on your feet all day or leaning over to pick up a box.
Spine Health: Preventing Pain
The spine is a delicate system with many moving parts. If one area is injured or aggravated, it can cause a cascading effect that interrupts every aspect of your life.
As with other muscles in the body, it’s essential to take care of your back to prevent injury. Strength and flexibility are two critical factors that affect whether you experience spine pain.
You don’t have to live with the pain. But the spine pain you are experiencing provides a clue that your current activities and/or lifestyle need to change to address the underlying issues.
Understanding Spine Pain
When the spine is uncomfortable or hurting, that part of the body is sending a signal that something might be wrong. You might have accumulated stress or minor injuries that build up over time, eventually pushing you into acute or chronic pain.
As the stress and tension builds, the spine starts to wear down until you reach a point of pain. Reduce this stress, and it will help to alleviate the pain.
Accumulated stress can happen in a variety of ways:
- Poor posture at the computer
- Lack of ergonomics while working
- Old injuries
- Wear and tear from sports
When the stress puts constant pressure on the spine, a slight motion can be the “straw that breaks the camel’s back.” For example, you might twist too fast or lean over to pick something up and have a sudden onset of spine pain.
A major accident or impact can also be a cause of sudden spine pain.
The good news is that the spine is resilient and can handle a lot of stress. With the right treatments and therapy, you can strengthen your spine, reduce pain, and prevent issues in the future.
The Ongoing Cycle of Chronic Spine Pain
When a person is experiencing spine pain, it can have a lasting effect that causes the pain to worsen over time.
If you are hurting, then you aren’t feeling motivated to exercise or move. But the lack of exercise and movement can inhibit the muscles and affect your movement patterns. Eventually, the pain compounds if you aren’t taking the steps necessary to rehabilitate the spine.
Sometimes, serious back issues need to be addressed before you can begin the recovery process. For example, if you have an injury requiring surgery, the structural problems need to be corrected before starting therapy.
When you maintain regular habits to support your spinal health, your body gets stronger and more flexible to alleviate current pain. Additionally, these exercises are effective in reducing the risk of back issues in the future.
For example, physical therapy is a great way to provide patients with the education and treatment options that address common types of spine pain. Work with a physical therapist to identify the most effective treatments for your unique needs, then apply these practices at home.
Spine Pain Treatment Options
Before an orthopedic doctor can identify an effective treatment plan, it’s necessary first to determine the underlying diagnosis. Next, we use testing and digital imaging to see what is affecting your pain levels. Then, this information is valuable to create a treatment plan that will work for your unique needs.
At Orthopedic Associates, we offer a range of services, including both minimally-invasive treatments and full-service surgical interventions when needed.
Often, back pain improves with home treatments. However, if you are continuing to experience pain, then it’s time to learn about available spine pain treatment options, such as:
- Pain Medication: For an acute back injury, pain medication can be a solution to help you get through the initial pain of the injury. Sometimes, over-the-counter medications are sufficient, but some patients require prescription-strength medications. Pain medication is a short-term option and not recommended for ongoing treatment.
- Physical Therapy: Strength and flexibility exercises are effective for improving mobility and supporting the spine. Physical therapy usually involves in-person appointments for patients to learn the exercises. Then, at-home exercises help patients maintain the habits that are necessary to protect the back.
- Injections: Cortisone injections can be helpful to alleviate immediate pain and reduce inflammation. For some patients, the injections are enough to provide relief. Often, injections are paired with other treatments, such as physical therapy.
- Back Surgery: Some injuries involve structural damage, which might require surgical repair. We offer both arthroscopic and full surgical solutions, depending on the needs of each patient.
- Alternative Treatments: You might also consider other alternative treatments along with the treatments listed above. Options include electrical nerve stimulation, laser therapy, biofeedback therapy, massage, and acupuncture.
Spine Pain Prevention Tips
If you have a history of back pain, it’s smart to be proactive with prevention strategies. The small preventive actions you take each day can have a compound effect to minimize the risk of back flare-ups in the future.
Here are a few proven tips to protect your spine health and avoid back pain:
- Core Strength: Maintain a strong core through exercises that strengthen the abdominal muscles and support the spine. When the joints and muscles are flexible and strong, they are more resilient to movements that could cause injury. Low-impact exercises that help with core strength include Pilates, yoga, and swimming.
- Stretching: Flexibility is an essential factor that keeps the muscles limber and supports mobility. Make it a habit to stretch regularly, especially before and after activities that put pressure on your back (yard work, sports, house cleaning, lifting, etc.).
- Heat and Ice: Pay attention to the minor symptoms so you can be proactive in treating spine pain before it worsens. If you have new stiffness or back pain, try using a heat pack to stimulate circulation or an ice pack to reduce inflammation.
- Rest: It might be hard to slow down your busy life, but taking time to rest is often an essential step in addressing spine pain. Minimize activities that cause your back pain to worsen. Take it easy to give your spine a break sometimes.
Talk to an Orthopedic Doctor about Spine Pain
Working with an orthopedic doctor is an excellent way to identify the underlying issues that are contributing to your back pain. Then, our team of specialists can put together an ideal plan to assist in your recovery.
Our goal is to reduce or eliminate pain whenever possible. Some patients will continue experiencing chronic pain, but treatments and lifestyle changes can decrease the pain and make life more enjoyable.