Back pain can be caused by any number of problems. According to the ACA, back pain is the third most common reason for doctor’s office visits although not usually caused by serious conditions such as arthritis, infection, or cancer. Some common causes of back pain are:
Muscle or ligament strain: Heavy lifting, sudden movement, or awkward sleeping positions have been known to cause strain on muscles and ligaments in the back. Pulled muscles, tendons, and ligaments can lead to tightness in the back and painful spasms.
Bulging discs: The back has 24 spinal discs, which are spongy cushions that separate the individual vertebrae in the spinal cord and up through the neck. These discs act as shock absorption and allow for pivot points (movement) in the back. When inflammation occurs around the tough membrane surrounding the vertebral disc without rupturing it, the disc is referred to as bulging. Bulging discs can lead to numbness, pain, and difficulty walking (among other symptoms).
Herniated discs: Herniated discs, or slipped discs, are often confused for bulging discs. A herniated disc, though, has ruptured the tough membrane surrounding the spongy tissue, causing the soft material to push through the rupture and irritate nerves around the area. Herniated discs can cause arm or leg pain, numbness, tingling, and muscle weakness. Herniated discs can cause inflammation leading to pinched nerves which can affect limbs and mobility.
Arthritis (or osteoarthritis): According to the Arthritis Foundation, arthritis is not a single disease, but a way to refer to joint pain or joint disease. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis; characterized by swelling and tenderness in the joints, usually caused by the deterioration of cartilage between bones in joints. This causes bones to rub up against each other during movement, which leads to swelling, stiffness, and pain. Arthritis usually worsens with age, as cartilage continues to break down. Obesity and medical history can also contribute to risk factors associated with arthritis.
Osteoporosis: Osteoporosis is a disease that causes bones to lose mass, thereby becoming weak and brittle. When the body loses too much bone mass without making enough replacement bone, bones can be fractured more easily. In severe cases, osteoporosis can lead to bone fractures from small occurrences like sneezing or bending over. When left untreated, osteoporosis leads to back pain, loss of height, and easy bone breakage.
Stress: Poor posture, excess weight, or inadequate exercise can lead to pressure in the muscles on the back. If the body is constantly hunched over, or muscles are left tight without stretching, the muscles in the back have to work extra hard to maintain mechanical mobility. This can lead to aching and soreness in the back.
Fibromyalgia: Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder that causes fatigue, pain in muscles and bones, tenderness, and cognitive disturbances (like lack of sleep). Fibromyalgia causes regions of pain that produce a constant dull aching. Because the nerves of the body are constantly being stimulated due to pain, the brain develops an abnormal nervous system response to pain, causing the pain receptors in the brain to overreact to pain and non-painful stimuli. Illness, trauma, stress, and genetic inheritance (family history of the disease) can cause fibromyalgia.
Back pain is one of the most persistent and widespread conditions affecting Americans today, Sesame offers a range of care options such as chronic care visits, chiropractic visits, and physical therapy visits.