by Mike Parsons, N.P.

It is estimated that more than 80% of adults will have back pain in their life. In fact, surveys have shown that 25% of adults have had low back/neck pain in the last 3 months. It’s responsible for untold lost days at work, money spent on treatments and evaluations, and countless nights of lost sleep due to pain. What causes low back and neck pain? How do we prevent it? How can it best treated?

What causes low back/neck pain?

The causes of low back/neck pain are many, and with the help of a skilled professional, the causes of pain can usually be determined quickly. Common causes include muscle strain, degenerative disc disease, disc herniation, arthritis, and joint inflammation. There is also new information coming out that inflammation to the sacral iliac joint (the joint that connects the spine to the pelvis) can be attributed to low back pain that has been difficult to diagnose.

How is low back/neck pain prevented?

As is usually the case with healthcare, prevention is always best. Low back/neck pain can be reduced by following these tips:

  • Engage in a regular exercise program, including stretching and strengthening the muscles that support the spine.
  • Maintain a healthy weight, as every pound in front (belly weight) exerts 5 pounds of pressure on the spine. Simply losing weight helps reduce the load on the spine.
  • Use proper lifting technique to avoid injury.
  • Be mindful of preventing falls, especially in and around your home that are not well lit, and while walking on icy surfaces in winter.

How is back pain best treated?

This is a complex question that should be answered for each person individually with a customized treatment plan specific to the problems. But, conservative care should come first, including options such as anti-inflammatory drugs, physical therapy, weight loss, and/or injections. Conservative treatment should always be given ample opportunity to work before considering any type of surgical intervention. But surgery is also an option that can be extremely effective with very high rates of success.

The keys to getting better are being correctly diagnosed, having a plan of care that is customized for you specifically, and using all the resources available for treatment. If you have any question regarding your spine issues, please feel free to call The Spine Center at EIRMC 535-4444.

Michael Parsons FNP-C

November 10, 2016
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