Common Causes of Back Pain
There are a lot of different ways you can hurt your back. Both car accidents and trauma (such as falling) can leave you with back pain for long periods of time. Straining muscles and ligaments in your back is easy to do when your body is not properly aligned, which is what happens if you don’t bend your knees and hips when lifting a heavy box.
Extra weight can also pull the back out of proper alignment, which is why people who carry extra weight during a pregnancy may experience back pain. Generally, after the baby is born, the mother no longer experiences the back pain. People who are overweight may also experience back pain. In many cases, if a person loses the extra weight, the pain will go away.
Back pain may also be triggered by structural weaknesses that are genetic. These reasons can include ruptured discs, arthritis, skeletal problems and even osteoporosis.
Whether your back pain stems from an injury or from some type of genetic degeneration, your doctor or chiropractor can treat you for pain, as well as give you suggestions of other ways to help yourself.
Don’t Wait For Low Back Pain to Send You to the ER
Treating back pain costs Americans over $86 billion each year, a figure that includes the price of around 800,000 back surgeries performed annually. However, the effectiveness of different treatments for reducing pain is a subject of continuing debate. A recent study in Spine Journal investigated how often low back pain sends people to the emergency room, and confirms past research that diagnostic tools often are overused in these situations. In many cases, a visit to the ER can be less effective for pain relief and far more expensive than an integrated approach, such as one that incorporates chiropractic care.
An analysis of emergency room visits in the United States conducted by researchers from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine found that low back pain injuries accounted for 2.3% of all visits to the ER, some 2.63 million visits each year. Once admitted, patients are likely to undergo extensive diagnostic testing, receiving an MRI, CT scan or radiograph, and two-thirds are prescribed opioids for pain relief. The reliance on diagnostic tools makes an ER visit a relatively expensive way to treat back pain, and the researchers conclude that significant cost savings are possible when treatment shifts to a primary care setting. This switch would also allow health care professionals to assess patients for risk factors before prescribing any medications, including opioids, and consider drug-free, noninvasive alternatives for pain relief, including chiropractic care.
Friedman BW, Chilstrom M, Bijur PE, Gallagher EJ. Diagnostic testing and treatment of low back pain in United States emergency departments: A national perspective. Spine Journal. 15 November 2010. 35:24. E1406-E1411.