Raise your hand if your back has not hurt in the past month! If your hand is in the air put it down and consider yourself lucky. You have avoided one of the most common ailments in America.
Back pain is a tough thing to measure. Pain, in general, varies so much depending on each person and the severity of their condition, and that seems to get even murkier when the back is involved.
While measuring pain is hard, classifying it typically isn’t. There are three general categories of back pain: acute, chronic, and neuropathic. Many back injuries could be considered in any of these categories; the main distinguishing factor in the pain categorization is the duration of the pain.
Acute Back Pain
This pain is the “lesser” of the pain types. Acute pain is pain that lasts less than 6 months. Acute pain is usually clearly linked to a specific injury, therefore once healing starts, the pain lessens. Examples of such pain include bruised muscles, muscle strains, and small fractures. The pain is present as soon as the injury occurs, or you feel it really bad the next day, yet once the bruise or strain starts to heal, the pain will begin to fade away until it is gone.
Chronic Back Pain
Chronic pain is, well, chronic. It is typically pain that persists for more than six months. Chronic pain is different from acute pain. Chronic pain is not directly linked to a specific injury. There are cases where someone develops chronic back pain due to a lifetime of lifting incorrectly, being overweight, or pregnancy. Preventative measures should be taken for this faction of chronic pain, such as eating healthy, exercise, stretching, correct posture, and sound lifting techniques. They are not infallible however, and one who does those things can still develop chronic back pain.
There are plenty of cases where a specific injury was the catalyst for chronic pain. Slipped or herniated discs, breaks, or even an unsuccessful back surgery can be specific events that lead to long term pain. When chronic pain is linked to an injury, seek medical treatment. A medical professional will know how to treat the problem.
If you experience back pain, you should contact a medical professional as there are a variety of options that can help provide relief for chronic pain.
Neuropathic pain is pain related to the nervous system. Some injuries will leave the nerves damaged or irritated. This can cause extreme pain and discomfort. Herniated discs may also fall into this category as they can put pressure on the surrounding nerves causing a lot of pain.
Another aspect of neuropathic pain is that it may be the nerves sending false signals. The injury that was originally causing pain healed, but the nerves are continuing to send pain signals to the brain This must be the paramount of frustration, to have an injury heal but to keep the associated pain. There are a number of treatments for such pain and it is important to consider treatment options early to try to prevent the condition worsening.
Back pain is no fun. It afflicts just about all of us in some way. Preventative practices can significantly decrease the likelihood of an injury. Exercise, weight-loss, and correct posture are just a few of many ways to try and prevent back pain. Fortunately, if you do suffer from back pain there are many treatment options available. It is just a matter of finding the right treatment for your situation. If you think your pain merits treatment, get in to see a medical professional as soon as possible so you can start your path to recovery.