How Common is Back Pain?
Back Pain is one of the most common complaints. Approximately 80% of adults will complain of some form of back pain in their lifetime. It is also the most common cause of job-related disability and a leading contributor to missed work days. The spinal column is comprised of very intricate vertebrae with nerves traveling between them. The slightest deviation may cause significant pain in the back as well as radiate down into your buttock and leg. The pain may feel sharp or dull or even like an electric shock, causing muscle weakness or even numbness in the feet.
Back stiffness is a usual symptom that may start abruptly or develop slowly over time. Severe back stiffness can interfere with daily activities, such as movements required for work. Back stiffness can be particularly debilitating for elderly adults, but some conditions associated with back stiffness can occur at younger ages. The stiffness can occur due to problems with back muscles, joints in the spine, or the spinal cord itself.
The Sciatic nerve is the largest and longest running nerve throughout the human body. It extends from the lower back, through the buttocks and into the thighs. Sciatica refers to pain that radiates along the path of the sciatic nerve. Typically, sciatica affects only one side of your body. Sciatica can be caused at the origin of the nerve by decreased disc space in the lumbar spine, spondylolisthesis, muscle spasm in the back or buttocks (Piriformis Syndrome) or even during pregnancy due to extra pressure being placed on the spinal column and surrounding muscles and nerves.
A bulging or herniated disc especially around the region of the neck can cause severe pain. Bulging or herniated discs usually occur due to injury. The vertebrae in the spine put pressure on the nerve ending that run in the spinal canal thus causing pain. Orthopedic surgeons will either perform a spinal fusion or disc replacement if the patient’s symptoms progress.
Osteoarthritis affects millions of Americans. This occurs when the cartilage that exists between the joints which has a purpose of providing cushion and insulation wears or completely deteriorates. Once the cartilage has worn out, usually due to wear and tear over time, the joint becomes inflamed causing extreme pain. The most common forms of this disease affect the hip, spine, knees, elbows and hands.
Degenerative Disc Disease
This disease specifically refers to the spine. It is very common affecting millions of Americans and it occurs when the cushion in between your vertebrae wears away due to age, overuse or herniation. Degenerative disc disease is generally treated with physical therapy as a licensed Doctor of Physical Therapy can help stretch and strengthen the muscles around the back allowing the patient to have more mobility and strength.