Back pain affects over 80 percent of Americans at some point in their lives. Whether the pain is in the lower or upper back, most people want to know what is causing the pain, how to get rid of the pain, and how to keep the pain away. Our staff excels in the diagnosis and treatment of both acute and chronic back pain.
Symptoms of Back Pain
Symptoms of back pain can range from a persistent dull ache, to stabbing, sharp and shooting pain. This can happen anywhere along the spine, but is most common in the lower back. The feeling of stiffness or an uneasy feeling about your back is usually a sign that your spine is in jeopardy.
How is Back Pain Treated?
Back pain is most commonly treated with pain medication and anti-inflammatory drugs. Although this approach does a good job at treating the symptoms of back pain, it does not address the cause. Since most back pain is caused by repetitive stress over a long period of time, it is crucial to find out which tissues are overloaded, and which tissues are inhibited (not working). Overloaded tissue results in increased scar tissue, decreased range of motion, and increased pain.
We use Active Release Techniques (ART) to fix the overloaded tissue, and movement based physical therapy to fix the inhibited muscles. Chiropractic manipulations are performed to restricted joints and a home exercise program will be designed and implemented to ensure long lasting relief. This combination of therapy will resolve most back pain within 4-6 treatments. Most patients with chronic back pain will begin a maintenance program once they get relief. ART, chiropractic adjustments, and updates to the existing home exercise program are performed every 3-4 months.
What Causes Back Pain?
- Disk-Related Back Pain: This is probably the most common type of back pain that we see in the clinic. Disk-related back pain usually starts as stiffness in the morning that gets better as the day goes on. It is usually aggravated by bending, sitting, and transitional movements like getting up from a chair or rolling over in bed. If this is left untreated it can sometimes lead to a disk herniation, in which the pain becomes sharper and you begin to get some numbness and tingling into the hip and legs. Less than 10 percent of all disk herniations result in surgical intervention.
- Facet-Related Back Pain: Facets are the small joints in the spine. Even though these are very small, they can produce a significant amount of pain. These joints are loaded with pain receptors, which is why they almost always cause sharp, stabbing pain. When these joints are irritated, pain is generally worse later in the day and it is very painful to extend the spine. Usually laying on your back with your legs extended also generates a lot of pain. People claim it feels like the pain is centered on their belt line. This pain is relieved by sitting, bending over, and slouching. If your pain lasts longer than two weeks or you begin to have radiating pain into the buttocks, you should schedule an appointment to have proper diagnostic and treatment interventions.
- Sacro-Iliac Joint Pain: Sacro-Iliac Joint pain or SIJ dysfunction is another common source of back pain. This is usually a dull and sometimes sharp pain around the dimple area of the lower back. The SIJ will sometimes cause pain into the buttocks and/or the front of the leg and hip. SIJ related back pain is usually caused by an unstable lumbar spine and hip. The site of pain is typically the weak side, while the other side often becomes restricted. SI joint pain tends to be more common in women, especially during pregnancy and after childbirth. With proper evaluation and treatment, this condition is easily resolved.
- Sciatica: Sciatica is an all-encompassing term for irritation of the sciatic nerve – a long nerve from the lower back down the back of both legs. The two most common forms of sciatica arise from disk bulges and compression of the nerve in the buttocks. Some rare cases are caused by spinal tumors, and large cysts. The most common symptom is lower back pain that extends into the hip and down the back of one leg. Generally speaking, if the pain is worse when you sit, cough, or sneeze, sciatica is a symptom of a disk herniation. If the pain is worse when you are standing or walking then compression of the nerve at the buttock is most likely. It is not uncommon to feel some numbness or tingling from time to time. Symptoms can last days, weeks, and even months.
Please call our office at 217-222-5800 for more information and learn more about our treatment options that are available to you.