According to a report conducted by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, anywhere between 70-90% of the population will experience back pain at some stage of their life. ABS statistics also indicate that roughly 16% of Australians are currently struggling from serious back pain issues and conditions. 

The first step to relief lies in recognising the symptoms and seeking help. Throughout this article, we will explore the common signs, underlying causes and the various options for treatment. 

Common Forms of Back Pain

Back pain is an incredibly nuanced and broad term that refers to a wide range of ailments. Four common types of back issues are as follows.

1. Soft Tissue Injuries

Muscle sprains and strains represent are one of the most prevalent forms of back pain. These issues are typically the result of heavy lifting or sudden awkward movements. People in poor physical condition may experience muscle spasms as a result.

2. Herniated Discs

Disks act as cushions between the bones (vertebrae) in your spine. The soft material inside a disk may bulge or rupture, pressing on a nerve as a result. You can also have a bulging or ruptured disk without back pain. Disk disease is often found incidentally through spinal X-rays.

3. Degenerative Injuries

In unfortunate cases, you may develop degenerative back pain. This is characterised by numbness, weakness and shooting pain. The underlying cause of degenerative back pain lies in damage to a spinal disc.

4. Fractures

One of the more severe forms of back pain, fractures and broken bones lead to serious discomfort. In these situations, a patient may also experience tingling, muscle spasms, weakness, bowel/bladder changes, and paralysis.

Risk Factors & Prevention

Beyond genetics, a variety of factors can increase your likelihood of serious or lingering back pain. These include

  • Smoking
  • Age
  • Low Exercise Levels
  • Psychological Conditions
  • Excessive Physical Strain
  • Stress
  • Excessive Weight

Of course, when an individual rates poorly on two or more of these risk factors, the chances of back pain are greatly increased. In regard to the factors under your control (such as smoking and exercise), you can proactively adopt a lifestyle that prevents back pain from occurring.

Other means of prevention will also centre on targeted back exercises and muscle relief. For some, relief is also found through holistic back pain treatments. This pathway is based upon the inherent link between some individual’s back pain and their mental wellbeing. 

Treatment Options – Where to Seek Help

Recurring back pain represents a serious inconvenience to many people’s lives. Luckily, there are various options at your disposal that can prevent, ease or remove any debilitating back concerns.

1. Visit Your Local GP

When back issues first bubble to the surface, general practitioners are a logical first point of call – unless you already have a history with a specialist or other forms of treatment and exercises. From here, your GP may be able to recommend specific exercises, back support items or lifestyle changes to relieve symptoms.

If these measures prove ineffective or a larger issue is at hand, you may be given a referral to a back pain specialist.

2. Orthopedic Doctors

Orthopedists specialize in all matters related to the musculoskeletal system, including back pain. Appointments will generally take place following a referral from your GP or another related specialist. 

Unfortunately, like all specialists, visiting an orthopedic doctor may come with significant costs if you do not have private health insurance. In these instances, it can be beneficial to explore other alternatives.

3. Neurologists and Neurosurgeons

In certain instances, back pain is the direct result of a neurological issue. Whether this has been determined already or your GP simply suspects a neuro link, these will be the specialists who ultimately assist. Note that this course of action is rarer and only related to specific back pain conditions. 

4. Holistic Therapies for Back Pain

Alternative healing utilises a holistic approach to tend to your physical, mental, spiritual, and social needs. As a result, holistic therapies for back pain are one of the core services offered by alternative medicine providers.

If this path is of interest to you, the best course of action is to reach out to the clinic for more information and detail. At this stage you can enquire about the practice itself, pricing and potential benefits. 

5. Chiropractors

The chiropractic industry has long been a popular alternative for sufferers of back pain. Chiropractic treatments generally involve tending to the spine while tending to bones, muscles, and joints. 

Appointments do not require a referral from a doctor. This is why you may hear chiropractors referred to as a primary contact practitioner. While treating back pain is often a priority, this field also deals with neck pain and overall wellbeing. 

6. Treatment through Lifestyle Changes

Lifestyle changes are a common method of treatment for back pain. This is because the root cause of back issues often lies in the way we sleep, exercise, work or treat our bodies. As noted above, factors including a lack of exercise, smoking, stress, and weight gain are all negative forces that accentuate pain. 

Back pain in athletes will generally arise from too much physical strain, weight performance programs and impact placed on back muscles. In this context, rest is often the best medicine. Further, additional changes can be recommended to exercise routines and training programs.

The Importance of Seeking Help

Although back pain is widespread in the community, many tend to leave it in the backseat and allow their condition to deteriorate further. Therefore, the most important step in the road to relief is simply reaching out for help – Whether this involves a visit to the GP, holistic therapies for back pain or implementing lifestyle changes.

Regardless of the treatment plan, early intervention is an excellent way to stamp out back pain and transition to a healthier lifestyle. Importantly, this process also allows you to understand exactly where the issue lies, what may be causing it and how subsequent treatment may assist.

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