Chronic back pain is back pain that continues for at least 12 weeks, sometimes even after the initial injury or cause of the back pain has been treated. Somewhere around 20 percent of people with acute low back pain will go on to develop chronic back pain.
It is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and an extremely common source of people seeking medical treatment or missing time at work. The goal of chronic pain treatment is to identify what is causing the pain.
What are the symptoms of chronic back pain?
The symptoms of chronic back pain are pretty simple – it’s mostly reported as muscle pain or shooting, burning sensations. The pain sometimes will radiate down the legs or worsen with twisting and turning of the torso.
Other symptoms may include the following:
- Trouble sleeping
- Substance abuse
- Problems in your personal or professional relationships
- Suicidal thoughts or actions
What causes chronic back pain?
Back pain is often the result of an injury or surgery, but if it is acute pain it will go away on its own with time. If your pain has any of the following characteristics, it may be chronic pain:
- If it persists more than a few weeks
- If it is severe and does not improve with rest
- If it spreads down one or both legs, especially if the pain extends below the knee
- If it causes weakness, numbness, or tingling in one or both legs
- If it is accompanied by unexplained weight loss
- If it causes new bowel or bladder problems
- If it is accompanied by a fever
- If it follows a fall, blow to your back, or other injuries
Conditions often linked to chronic back pain include the following:
- Muscle or ligament strain
- Bulging or ruptured disks
What are the risk factors for chronic pain?
- Older age
- Lack of exercise or physical activity
- Excessive weight or obesity
- Improper lifting
- Certain conditions like depression or anxiety
How do you treat chronic back pain?
Once chronic back pain kicks in, the body tenses up. Try to take deep breaths and imagine the breath reaching the part of your body that is in pain. Other stress management techniques (like yoga or meditation) may help as well.
If you spend too much time relaxing, staying put in your comfort zone, you run a risk of only worsening your pain in time. It may sound counter-intuitive, but not moving in an attempt to avoid triggering your pain only makes your muscles weaker over time.
You don’t have to literally climb up a mountain or go too far outside your comfort zone, but you should challenge yourself to be active. Remember to set realistic goals for yourself and manage your expectations throughout the treatment process.
One of the hardest parts of chronic back pain can be the social isolation associated with it. Fight back against this by building a social support network of friends and family, joining a support group, or booking sessions with a physical therapist.
There is no shame in seeking out treatment for any sort of health condition, covering anything from the flu, depression, or something like chronic back pain.
In fact, the field of chronic back pain treatment is currently undergoing many advancements thanks to innovative new treatments like ketamine infusion therapy that promise exciting results for those suffering from chronic back pain.
If you or a loved one are experiencing chronic pain, contact us today to find out if this innovative new treatment option is right for you.