Living with Back Pain and Treating It
One of the most common problems for many people is back pain. Also known as backache, it is the single biggest reason why people miss work or end up going on disability across the globe. In general, most everyone experiences it at least once in their lifetime.
Symptoms for backache include muscle aches, a shooting or stabbing sensation running down your back and even that which can radiate down your leg and experiencing a limited range of motion in your back. In other words, you may have difficulty bending down or lifting an object as a result of the aches or stiffness you experience.
Although most back problems such as these tend to improve on their own with home remedies within two weeks, it is a good idea to see a doctor if the backache doesn’t improve and if the following symptoms occur: bowel or bladder problems, severe ache that doesn’t get better even after you rest, a feeling of weakness, numbness or tingling in one or both legs, the ache spreads to one or both legs, particularly below the knee or if the backache follows a fall or other blow or injury to the back.
In addition, if you have a history of cancer, steroid use, drug or alcohol abuse, osteoporosis or are over the age of 50 and you begin to experience regular backache, you should see your doctor.
The exact cause of a backache could be one of many different things. However, whatever the cause, it usually occurs all of a sudden. It can last for under six weeks if it’s acute, or chronic if it lasts for longer than three months. However, when it comes on suddenly and there is no specific known cause of the pain, your doctor will most likely want to perform tests like MRIs. The most common causes of backache include arthritis, osteoporosis, an irregularity in the skeleton, muscle or ligament strain and bulging or ruptured disks.
Anyone can have this problem, even children and teens. Risk factors for the condition that make it more common to experience backache, however, include age, excess weight, smoking, improper lifting, lack of exercise, certain psychological conditions like anxiety or depression and certain diseases. It is more common for a person to start experiencing backaches from their 30s or 40s. If you are carry too much weight, whether you are carrying an overstuffed backpack or are morbidly obese, that puts more strain on your back. Being inactive more often than not can weaken your back as well and make it more vulnerable. Smoking can restrict necessary nutrients from getting to the disks in your back.
Treatment is administered for people suffering from chronic backaches. The five that are most common include over the counter pain relievers, muscle relaxants, antidepressants, topical ointments and creams and injections.
Relievers such as NSAIDs, acetaminophen, ibuprofen and others can help to relieve aching and swelling of the back. You should take them as directed by the doctor to minimize the possibility of side effects that can be serious.
Muscle relaxants can help if relievers aren’t effective. They are prescribed by the doctor and can cause sleepiness or dizziness, so it’s important not to drive when taking them.
Some antidepressants, like amitriptyline, are effective at relieving backaches that are chronic.
Topical relievers are available in cream or ointment form and consist of ingredients that can provide a cooling and heating sensation to the problem area when rubbed onto the skin. These are really only short term fixes, however.
Cortisone injections can be given to relieve backache as well. They can be effective for several weeks due to their anti-inflammatory element.