Back pain is one of the more common physical ailments that doctors and specialists treat, and it can show itself in several forms with different causes for each. Many times, back pain is caused by mechanical issues, involving disruptions with the physical components of your back and how they fit and move together. However, there are times that your back pain may be caused by inflammation rather that these mechanical elements. Inflammation attacks the joints in your spine and can eventually lead to pain in other areas of the body as well. In the following blog we will discuss some of the causes of back inflammation as well as treatments to reduce inflammation and ease your pain.
At its core, inflammation is a response mechanism that our body utilizes to combat injury or infection. While this is our body’s way of dealing with these issues, there are times when the inflammation process goes on for too long or in areas where it shouldn’t occur. This is where inflammation can become an issue for our body and can become a chronic problem that causes pain and discomfort. In these cases, it’s important to take measures in order to reduce the inflammation in the area so that our immune system doesn’t begin to attack and fight off normal, healthy tissue in our bodies.
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Inflammation occurs when our body releases white blood cells into our system in order to attack any unhealthy tissue as well as any foreign bodies like viruses or bacteria. This will increase the blood flow to that particular area of our body, resulting in some redness, warmth, and swelling. This process can result in the stimulation of nerves in that area causing pain.
Some goals of inflammatory treatment for our backs include modifying activities that further aggravate the symptoms, relieving general pain, maintaining and strengthening joint and muscle movements, and lessening the stress put on the inflamed area. There are several different treatment methods that can be used to accomplish these goals including rest, anti-inflammatory medications, exercise, and physical therapy. The type of treatment chosen for any particular case will, of course, depend on the area of inflammation, the age of the patient, the overall health and lifestyle of the patient, and the severity of the patient’s symptoms.
In the case of back pain, too much rest can actually worsen our condition. Lying down and just resting for a day or two can help ease the stress on your back, but anything more than this can be detrimental to the healing process. Staying inactive can actually lead to back stiffness and result in more pain. It’s important to instead, modify your normal daily activities to reduce stress on the back while keeping the muscles in the area strong and mobile.
A better solution for your back pain in terms of rest involves your sleeping patterns. Back pain can sometimes make it difficult to get a good night’s sleep. However, it’s important to modify sleeping positions in order to better accommodate the pain you’re experiencing. Try laying on your side while sleeping, placing a pillow between your knees. This will keep your spine in a more neutral position while relieving any stress put on your back during the night. Not getting enough sleep can result in an increase to your back pain, so ensuring you are getting the proper amount of rest at night can go a long way in relieving your symptoms.
For milder, less severe pain symptoms, over the counter medication can help to relieve your back pain issues. Common medications such as Ibuprofen or Tylenol help to relieve the inflamed area in these mild cases. You can also use anti-inflammatory topical creams that will help reduce inflammation and relieve some of the mild pain symptoms in your back.
Taking too much of these medications can be problematic, however. Excess use of these medications can lead to ulcers, kidney damage, negative effects on the liver, as well as gastrointestinal issues. Any pain that lasts for 3 months or longer is considered chronic pain and should be treated as such. Talking to your doctor about your pain symptoms and what treatment path you should take is always a good idea.
Moving around and modifying your physical exertions throughout your day is one of the best ways to deal with back pain in general and is no different for back inflammation. Starting with easy, low key movements and working your way up to your normal exercise routines is the best route to take when dealing with inflammatory issues. In particular, you should be focusing on exercises that will strengthen your core and back muscles in order to properly stabilize your spine.
During physical therapy, your therapist will teach specialized exercises that strengthen your core. This will relieve the stress on your spine and other areas of your back, while increasing your flexibility, mobility, strength, and endurance. They will also give you examples of how to sit, stand and move properly so that your spine will keep in proper alignment throughout the day.
Yoga is a great form of exercise that you can practice conveniently from your home. It makes use of stretching and core strength exercises that is perfect for back pain and for stabilizing your spine. It also is good for stress relief which will help to reduce the pain you’re experiencing. Some poses to try out when dealing with back inflammation are child’s pose, downward facing dog, and bridge pose, among others. Consistency is key with these exercises, as your flexibility and core strength continue to increase, your back pain will begin to decrease over time and can also help prevent further back issues from occurring.
At Pinnacle Pain and Spine we treat all types of back pain issues and inflammation is no exception. Meet with our team so that we can give you the proper diagnosis as well as treatment plan to reduce inflammation and treat your back pain. You can be sure that our team will provide you with the most effective way to getting back to living well.