Approximately 8 and out of every 10 of those living in the USA will have back pain at some point in their lifetime. It seems as if lower back pain is on the rise. In 1997, 29% of those over the age of 65 had back pain. In 2013, this number jumped to 33%. Interestingly, a third of female adults suffer from back pain compared to only a quarter of male adults. Over 30% of men admit when their condition affected their job; however, only 20% of women would admit this. A survey was conducted that reported on over 2,600 participants who shared their experience about how their back pain impacted their everyday life:
- Daily tasks – 39%
- Exercise – 38%
- Sleep – 37%
More than half, in fact, 54% of those in the US who have low back pain spend most of their time sitting at their desks at work. As many as half of all pregnant women have back pain.
Where do the majority of people go for care when suffering from back pain?
- Primary care physician – 40%
- Chiropractor – 40%
- Specialist – 20%
Only 1 out of every 10 people actually find out the real cause of their back pain. A survey conducted nationwide by Research! America asked whether the care suggested for back pain was actually effective. The results are below:
- Prescription medication – 58%
- Chiropractic care – 54%
- Physical therapy – 48%
Back pain does not only affect you physically but it can also have a major impact on your finances. Indirect costs, including lost wages, productivity, legal and insurance overheads, and impact on the family come in at $100 billion a year.
Explaining Back Pain
The back is made up of bones, ligaments, muscles, and joints that are a complicated structure. You might sprain ligaments, ruptured discs, irritate joints, or strain muscles — all of which lead to back pain. Sporting injuries, whiplash, or sometimes the simplest of movements, like picking up a pencil from the floor, can result in back pain. Additionally, poor posture, obesity, psychological stress, and arthritis can all complicate or cause back pain.
The lower back has the responsibility of supporting the weight of the upper body. It also provides mobility for everyday movement such as bending and twisting. The muscles in the low back help flex and rotate the hips when you walk and support the spinal column. The nerves of the low back supply energy and sensation to the pelvis, legs, and feet. Ligaments and muscles heal quickly, while a torn or injured disc may not.
How Herniated Discs Happen and Cause Back Pain
A herniated disc is a problem with one of the rubbery cushions, called discs, that are located between the individual vertebrae in your spine. These discs have a soft center encased in a tough exterior. A herniated disc occurs when some of the softer center pushes out through a tear in the tough exterior. This can irritate nearby nerves and lead to numbness, weakness, and pain in the back or one of the extremities.
Symptoms of a Herniated Disc
Most often, herniated discs occur in your lower back or lumbar spine. However, they can happen in your neck or cervical spine. The most common symptoms of herniated discs are listed below:
- Arm or leg pain: If your herniated disc is located in your lower back, you will feel the most intense pain in your buttocks, thigh, and calf. The foot may also be involved. If your herniated disc is in your neck, you will feel the most intense pain in the arm and shoulder. Either way, this pain may shoot into your arm or your leg when you cough, sneeze, or move into certain positions.
- Weakness: The muscles served by the affected nerves begin to weaken and can cause you trip, stumble or be unable to hold or lift items.
- Tingling and numbness: If you suffer from a herniated disc, you will often have numbness and tingling in the part of the body that is served by the affected nerves.
Causes of Disc Herniation and Back Pain
Most generally, disc herniation is the result of age-related wear and tear that comes on gradually. As you age, the disks of the spine lose some of their water content. This results in them being less flexible and more likely to tear or rupture with even the smallest strain or twist. Most of the time, people do not know what caused their herniated desk. It might be using your back muscles instead of your leg muscles to lift heavy items or twisting and turning wrong during lifting. In rare cases, a traumatic event, such as a vehicle accident or a blow to the back of the head, can cause a herniated disc.
Back Pain Relief Pleasant Hill CA
As noted above, chiropractic care can have a positive impact on back pain – nearly as much as taking medication but without the dangerous side effects. Upper cervical chiropractors focus their attention on the top bones of the neck, particularly the C1 and C2 vertebrae. If these bones are out of alignment, they can cause the spine to shift in order to compensate. It is often the lower back that takes much of the burden of doing this, leading to back pain.
At our upper cervical chiropractic office, we can use a gentle method that encourages the bones to move back into place naturally. We do not have to resort to popping or cracking the spine in order to get positive results. Once corrected, the spine is able to heal and, oftentimes, back pain becomes a thing of the past.