The cause of your back problem may be isolated to structural changes to the soft tissues protecting your spine; or your back problem may include degenerative changes to your spine along with poor coping mechanisms that you are inadvertently using to try to live with or manage your problem. Don't confuse this last statement with me saying that some of your back problem is in your head, or that you are not doing all the right things to try to treat it, or that you are improperly managing your back pain symptoms. Back pain is simply a tricky medical disorder to treat, and it is one of the number one cause of ER admissions and primary care visits. Here are some interesting things to consider when treating your back pain.
- Despite all the millions spent in research, the variety of specialists out there to treat, the variety of products and nutritional options out there, and the variety of exercise and surgical options available, simply doing nothing at all is the best course of action in most cases. Leave it alone is as likely or more likely to be effective as any machine that you could hang upside down from or and type of spinal manipulation that you could have from a chiropractor or osteopath. Of course, if your pain is unbearable, if you are experiencing severe neurological deficit (drop foot, numbness), or if you have concurrent medical problems such as fever, you will want to seek immediate medical attention.
- Most back pain sufferers won't actually experience their symptoms because of past degenerative changes to their spine. Most patient will experience the strongest symptoms of their back problem while the degenerative changes are taking place. Once these degenerative changes slow down or stop, the patient will be likely to resume a healthy level of functioning despite little surgical intervention or physical therapy. This is a second fact to consider towards advocating patience to back pain sufferers, at least in the acute phase (three months or less) of suffering symptoms.
- Surgery for back pain is often a hit and miss procedure for many people electing to undergo a procedure. Due to the moderate quality of success with procedure, and the risks involved with any type of major surgery, surgery will often be considered a measure of last resort, when other conservative options have failed to produce results. In one study, published in the February 15th issue of Spine reported some troubling statistics pertaining to spinal fusion surgery. In this article a group of two groups of back pain sufferers, 750 people in each group, were treated with one of two treatments to help them solve their back problem. The first group was treated with spinal fusion surgery; and the second group was selected for more conservative treatment that included physical therapy or exercise. The study lasted for about 6 years, and the results indicated that nearly all outcome categories were worse in the surgical group. The surgical patients were less likely to return to work sooner (or sometimes at all), were more likely to stay on narcotic medications, and were even more likely to be worse years after the procedure was performed.