Why Does My Back Ache?
Question: In the last week, have you had any pain affecting your muscles, joints, neck, or back which has affected your ability to carry out the activities of daily living?
Back pain is a very common problem that affects almost everyone. When the pain is severe enough to keep you from performing simple activities of daily living it may be time to see a specialist for an explanation and treatment plan.
In a recent European study approximately 67 million people reported pain during the week. In general, around 50 percent of the population reports pain at one or more locations in their bodies. Back pain is the most common site for pain in younger and middle aged adults. Knee pain is the most common in older people. Over the last 10 to 15 years, significant advancements have been made in the understanding and causes of back pain, its accurate diagnosis, and effective minimally invasive treatments.
When pain becomes too much to live with on a daily basis, a visit with a spine specialist can help shed light on the causes which would allow for targeted, directed, and effective treatment.
There are, generally speaking, three main areas of the spine which can cause clinically significant pain. These three structures, listed in order of incidence, are the discs, the bones, and the joints of the spine. Degeneration of these structures begins in our early 20’s and continues throughout our lifetimes. We are simply living much longer as human beings than our spines were meant to last.
Degenerative disc disease is as common as getting a grey hair and the rate at which degeneration occurs is influenced by many factors including genetics, physical activity level, core muscle development, bone density, and smoking. Degeneration of these areas alone is a natural consequence of aging and is not enough to cause pain. Rather it is the inflammation of these structures that is felt by us as pain.
Degenerative structures of the spine are more prone to become aggravated and inflamed causing us great pain, stiffness, and disability.
A spine specialist can help identify the degenerative area(s) of your spine which are causing you pain, allowing for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan to be initiated.
Treatment can range from simple activity modification, medications to reduce the pain and inflammation, injections to identify the pain generator and deliver targeted anti-inflammatory, and surgery to stabilize lax structures if all else fails. In modern medicine, surgery should be seen as the last intervention to be offered rather than the first.
Your doctor should be able to help you better understand the causes of pain in your particular case and implement a treatment plan that eliminates or reduces the inflammation at the degenerative areas allowing for you to more easily achieve your activities of daily living.