Finding the cause is the fastest route toward choosing an effective treatment program. While most back and neck pain can be narrowed down to certain causes, you might need to do more testing if none of these situations applies to you.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways for medicine to figure out how to stop your pain or at least minimize it so that you can lead a healthy life.
Most of us believe that any pain we experience must be due to something we’ve done in the past day or so.
We think that we must have moved the wrong way or that our muscles must have tightened because of something we’ve done – and we’re usually right. In more cases of back pain, activity is the root cause of the problems you’ve having.
But it’s not as simple as that.
Activity that’s directly related to the back pain is often simple to identify. You may have run a further distance than you have in the past and then noticed back pain when you got home and sat down later in the day.
Often this back pain is caused by:
• Muscle strain
• Muscle tears
Some of these cases of back pain are easy to understand. You bent down and then your back began to hurt. But other cases of pain can result over the long term, creating a little pain at first and then increasing into something more severe. In long term wear and tear, you may not even notice that you’re in pain until you’ve suffered a significant injury.
There are a number of reasons why exercise can affect your back.
Some of the cases are due to positioning in which you’re doing an activity that is straining your back in some way. This is often the case when you area doing repetitive movements at work or when you are bending over again and again.
You might also have troubles with your back and positioning when you are staying in one position and not supporting your back as you do. This can cause the back muscles to weaken and to cause troubles with the actual structure of the back itself.
What many people don’t realize is that the back contains only one set of muscles that supports your torso.
If you pull your stomach in tight, as though you were protecting your gut from a punch, you will notice that your back also tightens up – that’s because these muscles work together to support the torso and keep us upright when we walk and sit.
When our stomach muscles aren’t strong, they don’t tighten as well, causing our backs to be left unsupported. In fact, you’re going to be twice a likely to have back pain if your abdominal muscles are weakened – this is actually why the older you get, the more likely you are to have back pain. Since your muscles tend to atrophy as you older, especially when you don’t do weight bearing exercises, you will begin to have weaker back and abdominal muscles.
There are three sets of muscles that support the back in the abdominal area:
• Upper abs
Between the navel and the breast bone
• Lower abs
Under the navel to the pelvic girdle
• Oblique abs
Along the sides of the stomach area below the ribs
In order to properly support the back and prevent back pain from activity, you need to increase the strength of these muscles.
Most of the activity related back pain is related to weakened abdominal muscles or the failure of the participant to hold in their abdominal muscles as they are moving – thus supporting the back and holding it in the proper position.
Another common cause of back pain is injury.
Whether you directly hit or puncture the back, injury can directly affect the back, even when you hit the surrounding areas.
For example, when you’re in a car accident, you are restrained by your seatbelt, but as the car moves forward and you are hit, you can snap back into your seat, causing your spine to form a wave that sends the stress and the impact all the way down your spine and into your lower back and neck.
Even though the outside of your back looks fine, the internal alignment can be shifted; this causes nerve compression and even damage to the vertebrae.
Injuries can occur through:
• Sudden movements of the back and neck
• Impact from objects
• Car accidents
• Being thrown from horses or out of moving vehicles
• Repetitive movement
What’s interesting about neck and back injuries is that sometimes the actual injury does not reveal itself until long after the actual accident.
The spinal column is cushioned from impact by fluid, which helps to dissipate pressure. But when the fluid shifts back into place, it can cause damage to other parts of the spine, long after the impact.
Whenever there is a suspected back injury, the main concern is that there may be damage to the actual spinal cord. This is the cord that travels from the base of the spine, though the vertebrae and into the brain. This cord connects all of the nerves in the body and allows you to move, to think, and to breathe.
While this cord is housed in the vertebrae, it is very easy to sever, which will cause paralysis from that point of severing down to the toes.
In the case of an accident, it’s best never to move anyone if they report back or neck pain unless it’s dangerous for them to stay in the same area. Any slight movement can sever the spinal cord.
When you have repetitive injuries, these will present themselves gradually over time. You might notice that you have some pain from time to time, take some medicine and then forget about it.
But as the weeks go on and you continue to do the movement that caused the pain in the first place, it will continue to become more injured.
The muscles in the back can become torn and separated, plus the discs in the spinal column can become herniated and swollen. If you feel any pain after an injury or a movement, it’s simply best to have it checked out by a doctor.
What many people don’t understand is that the way you sit at your desk is often the root cause of back pain.
Many of us simply sit at our desks without another thought. And it’s easy to get used to sitting in a manner that is not supportive to our backs and necks.
The human body was technically designed to be upright at all times. So, the idea of sitting down is something that needs special attention since the body isn’t meant to be in this position for a long period of time.
If you look at the spine from the side, it should actually be slightly curved at the base. This allows the spine to maintain an upright position, while also keeping the spine from absorbing too much impact each time we step or move.
But when you’re sitting in your chair, many people hunch over, causing the curve of the spine to be greater or we try to sit with our backs flat against our chairs, which is also moving in the opposite direction of where our backs should be.
Many companies and businesses these days are employing the services of an ergonomics consultant to help them teach employees the proper ways to sit and work in their office. When the employees have safer workstations, it decreases the sick days for back pain and for employee injuries.
In addition, ergonomic consultants are also brought in to help those employees who have to maintain a certain position for most of the day. When you’re constantly doing the same motion over and over, it’s easy to loosen up your abdominals and forget to support your back.
When you’re hunching over or you simply aren’t using back braces that will remind you to stand up straight, you can harm your back over the course of your time working with your employer. You might not notice it at first, but in the end, you will have troubles with back pain that can be chronic.
Ergonomic consults can be expensive, but when you consider the ways they can help you maintain the health of your body and of your back, they’re well worth the cost.
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