Back pain is pain felt in the spine. Back pain may be acute or chronic based on the duration. The pain may be a dull pain, shooting pain, burning or a piercing pain. Symptoms are: • Persistent aching or stiffness anywhere along the spine • Sharp localized pain in the neck, upper or lower back • Chronic ache in the middle or lower back • Inability to stand straight • Back pain the radiates from lower back to buttock You should also watch out for sciatica symptoms and lower back strain.
HOW IS BACK PAIN DIAGNOSED?
The diagnosis of back pain is done by a medical health practitioner. The detection is based on the history of the injury or pain, the location of the pain and exclusion of nervous system injury. An X-ray is recommended for testing the pain and to detect any other bone abnormalities.
HOW IS BACK PAIN TREATED?
Fortunately, low back pain often gets better on its own. Back pain due to muscle strain will usually get better on its own, but you can take steps to make yourself more comfortable. A heating pad or warm baths may provide temporary pain relief. In cases when it does not, then there are effective treatments which are: • Exercise • Yoga • Massage therapy • Acupuncture • Medications • Injections • Surgery for severe cases
DID YOU KNOW?
Surgery is the last resort for treatment of back pain.
Back pain which affects most of the adult population may originate from the muscles, bones, joints, nerves or other structures in the spinal cord. Depending upon the region of occurrence, it is of the following types:
1. Cervical pain: Also called neck pain, it develops as a result of pressure exertion on the nerves emanating from the cervical vertebrae in the upper part of the spinal cord. Major causes of severe cervical pain include:
A. Head and neck cancer
B. Referred pain from acute coronary syndrome
C. Carotid artery dissection
D. Spinal disc herniation
G. Spinal stenosis or a narrowing of the spinal canal
The causes for less severe cervical pain are:
A. Physical and emotional stress.
B. Prolonged odd postures.
C. Pinched nerve
D. Herniated disc
E. Muscular strain
F. Referred pain from upper back problems
G. Minor injuries and falls.
2. Thoracic pain: It occurs in the middle back region as a result of muscular irritation, or may originate from spinal joints, ligaments, intervertebral discs etc. Factors causing thoracic injuries may include:
A. Poor posture.
B. Lack of strength.
C. Repetative motion causing injuries.
D. Trauma from sports injury.
E. A compression fracture of the vertebrae.
F. Spinal disc herniation.
G. Rib fracture.
H. Spinal tumours.
3. Lumbar or lower back pain: Low back pain involves the bones, muscles and nerves of the back. The following are a few of the factors causing lumber pain:
A. Disc degeneration.
C. Osteoporosis or broken vertebrae.
D. Tumour or an infection of the spine.
E. Spinal disc herniation.
Lower back pain may also assail pregnant women due to medical conditions like :
A. Uterine fibroids.
B. Ovarian cysts
C. Ovarian cancer
E. Muscle or ligament strain because of postural changes.
Sciatic pain also originates from the lower back when the sciatic nerve, beginning in the lumber region of the spine is exposed to compression or irritation. Sciatica usually indicates more serious conditions like degenerative disc disease, lumbar herniated disc, spondylolisthesis or spinal stenosis. Sciatic pain is typically characterized by the following:
A. Persistent pain in one side of the buttock or leg (rarely in both legs)
B. Burning, tingling or searing pain in the leg.
C. Pain that worsens when sitting
D. Difficulty in standing up and moving the leg, weakness or numbness in the foot and/or toes.
Cervical, thoracic and lumbar pains may all be caused by slipped herniated disc. It is a condition in which a vertebral disc in any part of the spinal cord changes position suddenly or is dislocated. Usually treated with a surgery, slipped disc causes:
A. pain and numbness on one side of the body
B. pain extending to the arms or legs
C. pain when walking short distances and unexplained muscle weakness
D. aching, burning or tingling sensation in the affected area
Back pain is usually treated with medication and surgery, in extreme cases. Temporary relief may be gained from hot compress, acupressure or back massage. In addition simple stretching exercises and yoga for back pain like bharadvajasana, ushtrasana, dhanurasana and setu bandha sarvangasana are quite effective. Physiotherapy is advised in advanced cases.
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