Most people will experience a little back pain at some point in their life. But when back pain becomes a chronic issue, it can really start to disrupt your life. Missed days of work and time away from family and friends can start to take a toll. The good news is that back pain doesn’t have to stick around forever. In this article, you will find some surprising facts about back pain, some tips for taking care of your back, and a long-term solution for a pain-free, healthy back.
The following statistics about back pain show that this is a condition that should not be ignored:
- The most common cause of disability around the world is low back pain.
- 80% of people will experience back pain at one time or another.
- $50 billion per year is spent on back pain the United States.
- Women are more likely to have back pain than men are.
- Over half of back pain sufferers have jobs that require long periods of sitting.
Tips for Taking Care of Your Back
The following tips are intended to give you ideas for how to take care of your back. Even if you can’t implement all of them, doing what you can day-by-day to improve your habits can have a big impact on the health of your back.
- Avoid long periods of sitting by taking short walks every hour or more often if you’re able.
- Reduce excess weight around the middle by eating a healthy diet and keeping active.
- Wear shoes that are comfortable and don’t have a high heal.
- Choose a mattress that is the right firmness for your back and sleep position.
- If you have to lift a heavy object, get help. Lift using your legs and with your back as straight as possible.
- Keep good posture at work and request ergonomic furniture and equipment.
- Stop smoking. This will improve circulation and tissue health in your spine.
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Differences in Types of Back Pain
Back pain can vary greatly from person to person:
- Location – back pain can occur in the lower, middle, or upper back, and on both sides or just one side
- Intensity and Quality – pain can be mild to severe and aching, sore, sharp, or throbbing
- Frequency – pain can be constant, sparked by certain movements, or something that flares up occasionally
- Timing – some pain gets worse as the day goes on while some pain is worse when you first wake up
Even though back pain can be experienced in a wide variety of ways, many people have found that chiropractic care can help improve their condition. In fact, a specialized niche of chiropractic, called upper cervical chiropractic, is especially effective. It might sound odd that a chiropractor who specializes in the top bones of the spine can help someone who has pain in another part of their back, but as you will read, the neck vertebrae can have an effect on the entire spine.
How Your Neck Could Be Causing Your Back Pain
Upper cervical chiropractors focus on the alignment of the atlas (C1) and axis (C2) vertebrae, which are the top two vertebrae in the spine. These vertebrae are very unique because they support the heavy weight of the head and allow for most of its range of motion. They also surround and protect the brainstem, which is a vital part of the central nervous system and connects the brain and the spinal cord. When the atlas and axis misalign, they can have a profound effect on the rest of the body.
From a nervous system standpoint, if the misaligned atlas and axis are putting pressure on the brainstem, the brainstem may not function adequately. The nerves that branch off of the spinal cord are what give your body the ability to feel sensations, move, and function. The spine cord sends signals from these nerves to the brain via the brainstem. The brain then sends signals back. All these signals have to pass through the brainstem, and if it is being hindered by the misaligned vertebrae, various health conditions can develop.
From a structural standpoint, the atlas and axis are very important bones in the spine due to the body’s righting reflex that attempts to keep the eyes level with the horizon. This righting reflex is important for maintaining balance, among other things. If the atlas and axis are stuck in a tilted position, the head will not be balanced and the eyes will not be level with the horizon. The rest of the spine will try to compensate for the imbalance by tilting or twisting in the opposite direction. The compensations can happen all the way down the spine. Telltale signs that this may be happening are when one shoulder is lower than the other shoulder and one hip is higher than the other. As the spine compensates for the misalignment at the top, the muscles, ligaments, and other tissues of the spine have to work harder. The unnatural curvature can put pressure on spinal discs that provide cushion between the vertebrae. Over time this can contribute to disc degeneration and more pain. However, correcting the misalignment at the top of the spine enables the rest of the spine to return to its proper alignment, and this often relieves back pain.
Here at Providence Chiropractic, we treat each patient as an individual because we know that no two cases of back pain are identical. We do a careful examination to determine where the source of your back pain may be coming from, and we use a gentle adjustment technique if an adjustment is needed. Many patients start feeling relief after their first adjustment. If you’re tired of dealing with your back pain, call us today for a consultation.