The three top causes of back pain

back-pain-t177527341Back pain is one of the most common problems physical therapists treat. At any given time, about 25 percent of Americans report having low back pain.

In most cases, the discomfort is mild and goes away on its own. But for some people, it can become chronic and affect your quality of life. Several conditions can contribute to low back pain, such as degenerative disk disease, spinal stenosis and a herniated disk. Here’s what you need to know about each:

Degenerative disk disease: As you age, the disks—the rubbery cartilage that cushion the bony vertebrae—wear down. They become flatter and less flexible, leaving less space between the vertebrae. When the surfaces of the vertebrae rub together, you may experience pain and inflammation, and spinal nerves may become irritated or compressed.

The pain may radiate to your buttocks or legs, and it may be worse when you sit, bend down or reach for something. You may be at risk for this condition if you do heavy physical work; you’re not active; you’re a smoker; and you’re overweight.

Spinal stenosis: This aging-related condition occurs when there’s a narrowing within the vertebrae of the spine. It results in excessive pressure on the spinal cord or nerves. You may experience pain, numbness, tingling or weakness in your legs or trunk. Your symptoms might worsen when you walk and improve when you sit down.

Herniated disk: This occurs when the gelatinous-like substance inside a spinal disk bulges through the rubbery outside or ruptures altogether. When this occurs, the gelatinous substance can press on spinal nerves and cause back pain, numbness or weakness in the legs. Herniated disks are most common in people between the ages of 30 and 50. Risk factors include being overweight, having a physically demanding job and being inactive. 

For more information on back pain and how to treat it with physical therapy and acupuncture, contact us here.

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