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5 Facts You Should Know About Low Back Pain

If you’re suffering from low back pain, you’re not alone. More than 80 percent of adults in the US will experience some kind of lower back pain in their life and it is the most common job-related disability. But knowing that misery loves company doesn’t relieve your pain. Only getting a proper diagnosis and treatment can do that. If you’re trying to figure out where to start with your lower back pain, these 4 facts can point you in the right direction:

#1 There are many causes of low back pain, from injury to disease

The majority of low back pain is caused by an injury, many from sports or occupational situations. But it can also be caused by disease. Arthritis, certain infections, cancers or diseases of the discs are all known to cause low back pain.

If you have low back pain and it does not resolve in a couple of weeks with home care remedies such as rest and ice, seek out an orthopedic specialist who can evaluate you and determine if tests such as x-rays, are needed to look for disc damage or indication of other diseases.

#2: Everyday changes can make a big difference

If your pain is caused by injury or overuse, pausing intense activities or swapping them for some strategic exercises (or both) can be key to recovery. Even those of us who are committed to a consistent fitness routine or have done the same activities for years still overdo it occasionally. Taking a short break or adjusting your form can work wonders for healing and reducing the chance or reinjury.

If your pain is aggravated by certain work activities, there may be small changes you can make to minimize further strain. If you’re on your feet all day or your job entails heavy lifting or other strenuous activities, you might benefit from better equipment (even changing to more study, supportive shoes can make an impact!), form or technique.

#3 Physical therapy and exercise can be a game changer

When homecare and lifestyle adjustments are not helping, your doctor may prescribe therapy under the guidance of a physical or occupational therapist. These experts can recommend exercises that are specifically designed for your situation. They may include stabilization or core strengthening exercises that help you regain strength and control over your abdominal muscles which are key in properly aligning and stabilizing the back and spine.

#4 Surgery for low back pain is typically only recommended when all other options have been exhausted

Even chronic pain can often be addressed with non-surgical, or minimally invasive treatments such as injections or physical therapy. But some problems, left untreated, can lead to significant and even permanent nerve damage and must be addressed. When surgery is recommended, it’s after non-surgical options are exhausted, and an orthopedic specialist feels that surgery gives a patient the best opportunity for a full and pain fee life.

#5 Many causes of low back pain can be prevented!

You’ve probably heard the phrase “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” and if you’ve endured low back pain, you know this is no exaggeration! Your lower back and spine are balanced by your core, which means your ab muscles are essential to keeping things in proper alignment. Strengthening those muscles and maintaining a healthy weight are two key ways to put less burden on your low back, and prevent injury.

Maintaining good posture at all times is also important. Make it easier on yourself and be mindful of how you sit, work and even stand – align your chair, desk, and computer so that you’re less likely to hunch over and put strain on your low back. If you stand for long periods of time during the day, wear comfortable, supportive and flat shoes to minimize or avoid low back pain.

If you have low back pain and haven’t been able to find relief, talk to an orthopedic spine specialist. They can diagnose the cause of your pain and outline a custom treatment plan that addresses your symptoms and related medical history.

Learn more about Dr. Crowther, our spine specialist, or make an appointment today.

Can Scoliosis Occur Later in Life?

Scoliosis is a condition where the spine curves to the left or right. It can be slight or severe, and there may or may not be a defined reason for developing the condition. Most of the time, scoliosis develops around the time of puberty. Adolescent girls get scoliosis more than boys, and children more than adults. In rare cases, scoliosis can also develop during adulthood.

Your spine has natural curves, like an S, that gently support your body and its movement. When a person has scoliosis, a sideways curvature is present. Some of the symptoms of scoliosis include pain, tingling in the extremities, and noticeable abnormalities in posture (like uneven shoulders or stooping). Nobody knows why people develop scoliosis, but there is some evidence of hereditary factors. 

There are two types of scoliosis, idiopathic and degenerative. Idiopathic scoliosis usually develops in and is diagnosed in young adolescents. Idiopathic scoliosis may not be diagnosed until adulthood, either because there may have been no symptoms for many years, or the curvature has become more pronounced.

Degenerative scoliosis is more likely to occur in adults. Just like many orthopedic conditions faced by older adults, degenerative scoliosis is preceded by wearing down of the cartilage between the bones of the spine. The spinal bones collapse against each other and can deviate to the side. Osteoarthritis of the spine results in scoliosis for some people. Some patients will also have osteoporosis also add the possible complication of a fracture due to the pressure on the spinal curvature. But just as idiopathic scoliosis may not cause any symptoms or discomfort, the same is true for degenerative scoliosis. There is no need for treatment if it is not causing the patient any issues with pain or mobility. Of course, a patient is unlikely to seek treatment and be diagnosed if there are no troubling symptoms.

Some possible reasons for the increase in cases of adult scoliosis are that people are living longer, and more active lives. Wear and tear of the cartilage in the back happens more quickly when there is more movement, such as from running, playing sports, or just walking. People also are more likely to seek out help for back pain than they may have been in the past. As the field of orthopedic medicine develops and specialists are more widely available, people increasingly know where to go with their back pain and they have more trust in orthopedic physicians who can help.

The severity of scoliosis is measured in degrees that the spine moves away from the center. If the curve is less than 40 degrees, most of the time conservative methods of treatment are effective in reducing or eliminating symptoms and preventing further curvature. Conservative treatments may include medication, physical therapy, or braces to provide stability and decrease pain. Surgical correction is a possible treatment for severe cases of scoliosis. Spinal surgery carries a significant risk of complications, so it is not normally considered unless there is severe pain or deformity. Each case is unique, so the surgery is performed with the goal of preventing further pain and damage in addition to correcting the abnormalities. 

Patients in the Colorado Springs area who have sports injuries or any orthopedic injury trust the Colorado Center for Orthopaedic Excellence to provide the best care. If you have an orthopedic injury or condition, call (719) 623-1050 for an appointment today.