Back pain is a common problem that can affect anyone regardless of age, fitness level, health condition, and ethnic background. It can be due to muscle strain, but back pain often develops without a reason that your Portland sports medicine physician can identify with an imaging study. Most back pain cases improve with simple home treatments and proper body mechanics within a few weeks. However, sometimes the pain can be ongoing, affecting your overall productivity. Common causes of chronic back pain include:
Osteoarthritis occurs when the protective cartilage cushioning joints in your body wear and tear, allowing bones to rub on each other upon movement. The friction causes the bones to wear down; consequently, the body responds by forming bone spurs. Osteoarthritis can attack any joint in your body, but the most affected joints include your knees, hips, hands, and spine. If you have this disorder, you may experience pain in the affected joints during or after movement. For example, when osteoarthritis damages the joints in your spine, you may feel pain when you bend. Osteoarthritis has no cure, but certain medications can help slow disease progression, alleviate pain, and improve joint function.
Spinal stenosis is the spinal canal’s narrowing, which can pressure the nerves traveling within your spine. The narrowing can occur in any spine region, but the most commonly affected locations include the neck and lower back. Most people with diagnosed spinal stenosis have no symptoms, but when the nerves are pressed, you may experience pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness in the muscles served by the affected nerves. Spinal stenosis is mainly a result of the wear and tear associated with osteoarthritis but can also be caused by thickened ligaments, herniated discs, tumors, and spinal injuries.
A herniated disc is a problem with one of the rubbery cushions between the series of vertebrae. Discs have a soft inner core called the nucleus, surrounded by a tough membrane called the annulus. As you age, disc degeneration occurs; the discs may dry out, or tears may form on the annulus. If a disc has a weak spot or a tear, some nucleus can push through the tear and bulge into the spinal space. The displaced disc further limits the spinal canal and may press on nerves causing pain. Anyone can have a herniated disc, but obese individuals are more vulnerable to this disc problem. Other risk factors for a herniated disc include occupation, smoking, and genetics.
Osteoporosis causes your bones to weaken such that a fall or mild stresses like bending can result in a fracture. Usually, your body constantly replaces old bone with new tissue, but this process slows down as you age. During your younger years, bone renewal is faster than bone breakdown, so your bones are stronger and less likely to break. However, over time, the creation of new bone doesn’t keep up with bone breakdown, causing osteoporosis. You may have no symptoms during the early stages of bone loss, but eventually, you might have back pain due to a collapsed vertebrae or fracture.
If you have ongoing back pain, visit your specialist at Sports Health Northwest, Inc. for treatment to improve your quality of life.