Sciatica — herniated discs — degenerative muscles — pinched nerves — arthritis. If reading these words makes your back ache, don’t worry! You’re not alone, and there are ways to prevent serious back pain.
Sources of back pain
Back pain can result from injury, infection, disease, misfiring nerve receptors or simply the structure of the back. Everyday activities and poor posture can also lead to back pain.
Lifting, staying in one position too long, twisting the spine or bending awkwardly can cause back pain. Almost anyone can be susceptible to back pain.
In fact, about 80 percent of Americans will suffer from back pain at some point in their lives. It is the leading cause of disability in people under 45 — and the No. 1 cause of work-related disability for all ages. Further, back pain affects people of every sex, socioeconomic status, occupation and education level.
Diagnosis and treatment
It’s important to work with your doctor. For some people, a common muscle strain can cause excruciating pain, while another patient with a slipped disc may only experience mild discomfort.
Salem Health’s medical teams have standardized back treatment to the most effective methods. While every case is different, primary care physicians recommend a level of care that meets your needs and help you avoid unnecessary or expensive surgery. Your PCP can perform an initial evaluation, request additional diagnostic tests, prescribe medication and make referrals to spine specialists.
Only about five percent of Americans affected with back pain (around 56 million people) need to have surgery. Back pain can be treated less invasively by medication or injections (epidural, nerve block or discography).
Prevention and maintenance
The simplest ways to prevent back pain are to practice good posture, proper body mechanics and regular exercise. Also, pay attention to your sleep position and try to move regularly throughout the day.
Salem Health’s Community Health Education Center also offers a Healthy Back class where you can:
Learn how to strengthen your back and decrease the risk of injury.
Practice easy-to-follow strength and flexibility exercises to keep your spine strong, so you can keep doing activities you enjoy.
Evaluate your bone density with a free screening.
The Healthy Back class is offered by the Salem Spine Center and taught by an experienced physical therapist so you won’t repeat bad habits or cause more pain. Sign up by visiting the class description page or by calling 503-814-2432 (CHEC).