Diseases and Conditions
Bone and Muscle Conditions
Back Pain Center: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment
Listing lifestyle choices that may result in improved back pain may be misleading. The internet is full of “common sense...
Since the severity of back pain varies so much from patient to patient, there are several treatments to choose from....
The prevalence of back pain is remarkably consistent in all parts of the world and in all cultures. Roughly 20 percent of people a...
The most important thing to understand is that the definitive cause of an individual's back pain is difficult to identify. It ...
The most important thing to understand is that the definitive cause of an individual’s back pain is difficult to identify. It has been estimated that a definite cause is evident about 20 percent of the time using tests like MRI of the lumbar (lower) spine.
The prevalence of back pain is remarkably consistent in all parts of the world and in all cultures. Roughly 20 percent of people across the globe have back pain at any given time, 40 percent have had back pain in the past year and 80 percent of people will have back pain during their lifetime. The prevalence of disability from back pain, however, is much more variable and depends on cultural influences, for example, disability due to back pain is largely a phenomenon of Westernized societies.
Signs and symptoms of back pain can be organized into these four categories:
1. Non-specific back pain
2. Possible serious pathology
3. Back pain with neurologic deficit
4. Non-spinal back pain
The diagnosis of back pain is subjective and identifiable only by the patient. There is no real way to prove or disapprove someone’s pain. Attempts to refine or specify the diagnosis have had little impact on the success of treatment. One explanation for this is that we tend to lump back pain into one category, while it may actually be many different subcategories. If we can easily distinguish and identify these subcategories of back pain, we would be able to treat more specifically and yield more success.
Since the severity of back pain varies so much from patient to patient, there are several treatments to choose from.
The word “integrative” in the last decade or so has replaced the word “alternative” in the terms “alternative medicine” or “alternative therapies,” and with good reason. “Alternative” used to carry a stigma that methods not using traditional medicine or medical practices were somehow rooted in “woo-woo” magical thinking. But more and more, homeopathy and alternative healing have been accepted and studied widely in the world of traditional science, to the point that some medical schools have added integrative medicine as a field of study. Below are a few integrative treatments for pain relief that I feel are worthy of mention for back pain.
Listing lifestyle choices that may result in improved back pain may be misleading. The Internet is full of “commonsense” choices to improve back pain, but none are actually evidence-based medicine. More valuable are philosophical tenets to provide an overview.