Back pain is one of the most common health problems of today. It is estimated 75 million people will experience some type of back pain each year. Over 80 percent of the adult population experienced back pain at some time in their life. For those in the age group of 30-50, it is the most common cause of disability. This age group is the most productive part of the work force and the economic affects of low back pain are significant.
Low back pain is the second largest condition seen by family practitioners, yet the medical treatment prescribed is often ineffective. One medical researcher suggests that the family practitioner should refer their back pain patients to a Doctor of Chiropractic for care since it has proven to be helpful.
In a general sense, lower back pain is a mechanical disorder that responds well to chiropractic manipulation. Each year, more and more low back pain sufferers are turning to chiropractic care for relief.
Causes of Back Pain
There are many different causes of back pain. The following is a list of some of the more common:
Stress and Tension: Emotional stress and tension results in tight muscles which produce pain and stiffness.
Poor Posture: Sitting incorrectly or standing for long periods of time can produce back pain. Be careful of your work posture or positioning.
Physical Work: Heavy physical work, including lifting or forceful movement, bending or twisting is often associated with low back pain. Improper lifting techniques can not only cause, but aggravate low back pain.
Daily Activities: Normal activities of life can cause muscle strains and sprains leading to back pain. It is not uncommon for activities like gardening, tennis, biking, horseback riding or even golf to hurt your low back.
Accidents and Injuries: Auto accidents, sports injuries, slips and falls and other trauma can result in back pain.
Weight Gain: The additional weight from being overweight can produce pressure and stress on the low back resulting in pain.
Aging: As we age, ligaments thicken and discs dry out. These changes may lead to problems that put pressure on the spinal nerves producing back pain.
A Unique Approach to Pain
At North County Pain Relief Center we offer a comprehensive and unique program of care for back pain.
The primary treatment for back pain is a chiropractic adjustment. This procedure is a gentle, low force re-alignment of the spinal bones (vertebrae). The results is restoration of joint function and stress reduction to the spine and nervous system.
Another treatment is trigger point therapy. This is a systematic application of pressure to specific points in the body. The goal is to reduce or eliminate muscle pain.
It is common to find most back pain sufferers to be stiff and inflexible. To aid in correcting this, flexibility and stretching programs are designed to improve and restore pain-free range of motion.
If the low back pain is the result of an old injury that was not treated properly or rehabbed, additional balance and stabilization rehabilitation activities will be performed. The goal is to improve spinal structural integrity and coordination.
The ultimate strength of the spine is the strength of the supportive soft tissue: the muscles. As suspension cables support bridges, the muscles of the back support the spine and determine its strength and durability. It takes only one weak muscle to produce reoccurring back pain. A functional evaluation to determine muscle weakness is necessary to prescribe the correct strengthening exercises. This is necessary to gain relief and to stay out of pain.
Back Injury in a Car Accident
Injuries to the back are common in accidents. Head-on, side-impact and rear-end incidents can all leave you with damage to your back. The damage can range from bruises and sprains to fractured vertebrae and spinal cord damage. Any time you are in an accident it is important to go to a doctor for evaluation and treatment; just because you don’t see visible damage does not mean you are unharmed. Dr. Elsey, a Hazelwood chiropractor, can help you identify the damage beneath the surface and begin treating issues before they escalate to long term or chronic pain. In any accident your medical records are important. They can tie your back injuries directly to the accident.
The spine is complex and unfortunately it is often damaged in a collision. There are nerves that exit through holes in each bone of the spinal column. These are called nerve roots or radial nerves. Since the spine protects these nerves, issues with your back can cause pain in different parts of your body.
We can help address back-related issues from all over the Saint Louis, Missouri region, included but not limited to Florissant, Hazelwood, Ferguson, Spanish Lake, and Black Jack.
What Kind of Damage can Occur?
Seatbelts and airbags increase protection in a wreck but serious injuries can still occur in a collision. The spinal cord and nerve roots are protected by the spine, but during traumatic impact they can be pinched or damaged. The cervical spine, the neck, supports the weight of the head. Often damage to this area during a car crash results in whiplash. Our Hazelwood office treats whiplash cases quite often, check out the whiplash section for more information.
The thoracic spine, the middle and upper back, attach to the ribs and include 12 vertebral bodies. This section protects the chest and the important organs within. Because this section is so solid, you won’t typically have a herniated or degenerated disc in this area. Pain in this region is often from joint disfunction or irritation in the muscles.
The muscles of the back are attached by thick bands of tissue called tendons. When your muscles contract, they shorten and pull on the tendons. A collision can put stress on this connection and injure the area. In an accident the back can move in unnatural ways, perhaps resulting in a sprain or strain.
A strain occurs when the tendons or muscles stretch too far or are torn. A tear can occur in three areas. The muscle itself may tear or the place where the muscle and tendon connect may tear. The tendon may also tear, either partially or completely. It is called a rupture if the tendon tears completely. A sprain occurs when the ligaments that anchor the bone on each side of a joint stretch or tear. Ligaments stabilize the joint and make sure that the joint only moves in a specific direction.
In an accident, damage may occur in the lower back, called the lumbar spine. This portion carries a heavy load but is not as structurally supported as the middle back. It is open to pain from muscle strain, herniated discs, or degenerative disc disease.
Between each vertebral body in the back, there are spinal discs. They are also called intervertebral discs. These discs act as shock absorbers for the vertebra. The discs can become bulged or herniated due to trauma to the back. If the trauma pushes a disc out of its natural position the displaced disc is called a bulging disc. If the impact cracks a disc open and causes part of the inner cartilage to protrude, the disc is herniated.
Any issues with the back will cause pain, and if the injury includes pressure to the spinal column, you may experience pain in areas other than your back. If the spine is left in misalignment, it will wear out more quickly and may cause chronic pain. Dr. Elsey can determine what kind of damage your spine has sustained and can help you realign and restore health to your back.
Come into our office for a consultation as quickly after an auto accident as you are able. North County Pain Relief can help with transportation to and from our offices because we understand that your vehicle may not be safe to drive. An early consultation can address issues before they have a chance to do more damage and can help to eleviate sources of pain that develop weeks or even months after a collision. Call our office, (314)731-4201.