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Nipping back pain in the bud, before it becomes chronic

New Jersey readers may be surprised to learn that 4 out of 5 American adults will experience back pain in their lives. Sometimes, the pain is the result of a simple strain, perhaps from improper lifting or trying a new exercise workout regime. Genetic conditions and illness may account for other cases.

Many workers with back pain may undergo diagnostic exams in an effort to pinpoint the cause of their symptoms. Yet X-rays, MRIs or CT scans often reveal no anatomical anomalies. Unfortunately, doctors do not yet fully understand the cause of nonspecific back pain, nor do they have a proven treatment model for it. Yet Americans keep searching, spending more than $100 billion each year in treatments both conventional and alternative.

Unlike other forms of pain, bed rest often does not speed the rehabilitation of nonspecific back pain. To the contrary, many physical therapists and chiropractors advocate remaining active to minimize chronic back pain, provided that the spine is structurally sound and there are no other muscuoloskeletal or orthopedic impairments causing the pain. When symptoms worsen, however, doctors might not have an answer to give to their patients. If the back pain and related immobility are expected to last more than 12 months, some individuals with back pain may be eligible for Social Security disability insurance benefits.

Although muscular tension and fatigue may be observable response to back pain, some physical therapists and chiropractors suggest chronic postural misalignment may be the underlying issue. Computer works often lead with their chins while reading their computer screens. That posture may compress the cervical vertebrae and impinge nerves in the neck, while simultaneously requiring back muscles to overcompensate for the body’s postural imbalance.

Source: sacbee.com, “Inside Medicine: Back pain best treated with time,” May 9, 2013

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