back pain, spinal stenosis

SPINAL STENOSIS

Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spaces within your spine, which can put pressure on the nerves that travel through the spine. Spinal stenosis occurs most often in the lower back and the neck.

Some people with spinal stenosis may not have symptoms. Others may experience pain, tingling, numbness and muscle weakness. Symptoms can worsen over time.

At times spinal stenosis can be caused by wear-and-tear changes in the spine related to osteoarthritis.

Types of spinal stenosis

  • Cervical stenosis. In this condition, the narrowing occurs in the part of the spine in your neck.
  • Lumbar stenosis. In this condition, the narrowing occurs in the part of the spine in your lower back. It’s the most common form of spinal stenosis.

Symptoms of spinal stenosis

For cervical stenosis, symptoms include:

  • Numbness or tingling in a hand, arm, foot or leg
  • Weakness in a hand, arm, foot or leg
  • Problems with walking and balance
  • Neck pain
  • In severe cases, bowel or bladder dysfunction (urinary urgency and incontinence)

For lumbar stenosis, symptoms include:

  • Numbness or tingling in a foot or leg
  • Weakness in a foot or leg
  • Pain or cramping in one or both legs when you stand for long periods or when you walk, which usually eases when you bend forward or sit
  • Back pain

Treatment for spinal stenosis

Treatment for spinal stenosis depends on the location of the stenosis and the severity of your signs and symptoms.

Talk to your doctor about the treatment that’s best for your situation. If your symptoms are mild or you aren’t experiencing any, your doctor may monitor your condition with regular follow-up appointments. He or she may offer some self-care tips that you can do at home. If these don’t help, he or she may recommend medications or physical therapy.

Surgery is often recommended if other treatments haven’t helped or if you’re disabled by your symptoms. The goals of surgery include relieving the pressure on your spinal cord or nerve roots by creating more space within the spinal canal. Surgery to decompress the area of stenosis is the most definitive way to try to resolve symptoms of spinal stenosis.

Examples of surgical procedures to treat spinal stenosis include laminectomy, laminotomy, laminoplasty, minimally invasive surgery.

Alternative medicine

  • Massage therapy
  • Chiropractic treatment
  • Acupuncture
back pain

BACK PAIN, POSSIBLE CAUSES OF PAIN ON THE BACK, WHEN TO SEE A DOCTOR

Back pain is a common problem and will affect many of us at some point during our lives.

CAUSES OF PAIN ON THE BACK

Often back pain doesn’t have one simple cause but may be due to one or more of the following:

  • muscle strains or sprains
  • poor posture
  • lack of exercise resulting in stiffening of the spine and weak muscles
  • sciatica – this is caused by a nerve in the spine being pressed or squeezed. In most cases, sciatica is caused by a bulging disc pressing on the nerve causing pain that travels all the way down the leg and foot
  • spinal stenosis – this is a condition where the space around the spinal cord narrows and compresses a section of nerve tissue. This can happen from birth or can develop as we get older. Like sciatica, the main problem with spinal stenosis tends to be leg pain more than the back pain
  • bone problems such as a fracture on the back bone – often caused by trauma or thinning of the bones called osteoporosis
  • infection in the bones
  • a tumour
  • inflammation, for example ankylosing spondylitis https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/back-pain/causes/

WHEN TO SEE A DOCTOR

Although it’s common, most cases of back pain tend to clear up without the need to see a doctor. However, you should see your doctor if your pain:

  • stops you from working or doing the things you enjoy
  • affects your everyday activities
  • gets worse
  • is really bad
back pain

5 REASONS THE BACK PAIN DON’T GET BETTER

(1) Not resting

Most back injuries result from overusing muscles, which can lead to minor muscle strains or tears. Most Sports Journal observes that 97 % of back pain in the general adult population and the majority of low back pain in college athletes is caused by “muscle strains, ligament sprains, and soft tissue contusions.” This sort of injury requires rest to heal. This doesn’t mean you must be confined to the couch until your back gets better. In fact, you should exercise to keep your muscles strong. You can swim, walk, do yoga, and perform certain stretches to stay in shape while you rehabilitate.

(2) Not eating right

Your body needs fuel to heal, and the right kind of fuel can heal you faster. Though back pain is often due to a muscle strain, the pain is directly caused by inflammation. So if you can eat foods that limit inflammation, your back pain should lessen. Foods rich in omega-3 and mono-saturated fats such as fish are highly recommended to reduce inflammation, as are brightly coloured plants like carrots, berries, and grapes. In addition to anti-inflammatory foods, protein helps speed the recovery process. Above all, make sure to eat enough. You may want to eat less since you are not exercising as much, but your body needs the additional fuel as energy to heal your back injury.

(3) Not seeing a professional

Most of the time pain from your back comes from simple strains that heal over time. But some injuries are more severe. You could have a pinched nerve or another condition that requires professional help to get better. Going to a doctor can be a solution.

(4) Seeing the wrong professional

By “professional,” I mean a licensed physician or back specialist, not a massage therapist, chiropractor or acupuncture specialist. I mean an actual doctor who can look at your back and diagnose the reasons for your pain. A licensed physician or back specialist who can do an x-ray, MRI scans and other diagnostic tests. A diagnosis is necessary to ensure that you do not re-injure the affected part.

(5) Not committed

Back injury is demoralising, and the process of healing and rehabilitation is painful. But the more you let it drag on, the longer the pain will persist. Motivation is key to ensuring that you fully commit to the rehabilitation process, and a positive mindset can help speed the recovery process. A medical professional can diagnose your injury and recommend methods and exercises for you to heal, but it is up to you to commit to them. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/back-pain/

neck pain

IF YOU WANT TO KNOW 7 EASY EXERCISES TO RELIEF NECK PAIN, read on…

Putting the back in a static position for long periods increase the risk of back or neck strain. The best preventative medicine for neck and back strain is movement. Take frequent breaks away from the computer screen to stretch.

(1) NECK GLIDE

Begin with a straight neck position. Move your chin forward and maintain comfort. Hold this position for 5 to 10 seconds. Repeat 10 times and increase reps over time up to 20.

(2) TOWEL PULL

Place a rolled towel around your neck in a U Shape holding both ends just below your shoulders. Move your head up and down rolling the towel up and down the neck in the process. Apply pressure as needed to give yourself a neck massage.

(3) SHOULDER SHRUGS

Start in a straight forward position. Raise both shoulders as upward as far as possible and hold for 30 seconds. Return to the starting position and rest for 10 seconds then repeat. Repeat 10 times and increase reps over time up to 20.

(4) NECK ROTATION

Begin with a straight neck spine. Move your head to the left as far as possible while retaining comfort. Hold for 10 seconds and return to a forward-facing position. Move the head to the right and follow the same instructions.

(5) FORWARD FLEXION

Begin in a straight-ahead position. Lower your head until your chin touch your chest, IF POSSIBLE. Only move to a comfortable level when beginning. Return to starting position after 10 seconds. Repeat 10 times and increase reps overtime to 20.

(6) NECK EXTENSIONS

Begin in starting position facing forward with a straight spine. Slowly move your head back as far as possible while remaining comfortable. Hold for 10 seconds and return to starting position. Repeat 10 times and increase reps overtime to 20.

(7) DEEP STRETCHES

Never stretch to a point that is not comfortable for you. Begin in a seated position facing forward. Move your head to the left and hold for 10 seconds, return to start and follow same instructions to the right. Repeat 10 times and increase reps overtime to 20. https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/flexibility-exercises/

back pain

BACK PAIN

Back pain commonly result from injury, strain or tension on the back. Activities that can lead to strains include but not limited to:

  • lifting something that is too heavy
  • making an abrupt and awkward movement
  • lifting something improperly

STRUCTURAL PROBLEMS

A number of structural problems may also results in back pain. Some of them are:

  • Arthritis on the back – osteoarthritis can cause problems with the joints in the hips and lower back. In some cases the space around the spinal cord narrows, this is known as spinal stenosis.
  • Ruptured disc – each vertebra in the spine is cushioned by discs. If the disc ruptures there will be pressure on the nerve resulting in back pain.
  • Bulging disc – in much the same as ruptured disc, a bulging disc can result in more pressure on a nerve.
  • Sciatica – a sharp and shooting pain travels through the buttock and down the back of the leg caused by a bulging or herniated disc pressing on a nerve.
  • Abnormal curvature of the spine – if the spine curves in an unusual way, back pain can result. An example is scoliosis in which the spine curves to the side.

Back pain can also result from some everyday activities or poor posture, examples include:

  • twisting
  • over-stretching
  • coughing or sneezing
  • muscle tension
  • bending awkwardly or for long periods
  • pushing, pulling or carrying something
  • standing or sitting for long periods
  • straining the neck forward, such as when driving or using a computer
  • long driving sessions without a break, even when not hunched
  • sleeping on a mattress that does not support the body

Some medication conditions that can cause back pain include but not limited to:

  • Cauda equina syndrome – the cauda equina is a bundle of spinal nerve roots that arise from the lower end of the spinal cord. Symptoms include a dull pain in the lower back and upper buttocks, as well numbness in the buttocks, genitalia & thighs. There are sometimes bladder and bowel function disturbances.
  • Cancer of the spine – a tumor on the spine may press against a nerve resulting in back pain.
  • Infection of the spine – a fever and tender warm area on the back could be due to an infection of the spine.
  • Other infections – pelvic inflammatory disease, bladder or kidney infections may also lead to back pain.
  • Sleep disorders – individuals with sleep disorders are more likely to experience back pain.
  • Shingles – an infection that can affect the nerves may lead to back pain. This depends on which nerves are affected. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/back-pain/causes/

The following factors are linked to a higher risk of developing lower back pain:

  • poor physical fitness
  • a sedentary lifestyle
  • pregnancy
  • occupational activities
  • older age
  • obesity and excess weight
  • smoking
  • strenuous physical exercise or work, especially if done incorrectly
  • genetic factors
  • medical conditions such as arthritis and cancer
back pain

LOWER BACK PAIN, SIGNS & SYMPTOMS AND CAUSES OF LOWER BACK PAIN

Pain in the lower part of the back is the primary symptom of low back pain. Below are the signs:

  • the pain may radiate down the front, side or back of the leg or it may be confined to the lower back,
  • occasionally, the pain may be worse at night or with prolonged sitting such as on a long car trip,
  • the pain become worse with activity,
  • there may be numbness or weakness in the part of the leg that receives its nerve supply from a compressed nerve. This occurs when first sacral nerve is compressed or injured. This can cause inability to plantar flex the foot. This mean a person affected will have inability to stand on toes or bring foot downward,
  • another sign is inability to raise the big toe upward. This results when the fifth lumbar nerve is compromised.

CAUSES OF LOWER BACK PAIN

Back pain is a symptom. Common causes of back pain involve disease or injury to the muscles, bones and/or nerves of the spine. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/back-pain/causes/ Below is the list of possible causes of lower back pain, this list is not inclusive:

  • herniated disc. This develops as spinal discs degenerate or grow thinner. The jellylike central portion of the disc bulges out of the central cavity and pushes against a nerve root. Intervertebral discs in humans begin to degenerate by the third decade of life,
  • nerve root syndromes. These produce symptoms of nerve impingement (this is where a nerve is directly irritated). Sciatica is an example of nerve root impingement. Impingement pain tends to be sharp, affecting a specific area and associated with numbness in the area of the leg that the affected nerve supplies,
  • spondylosis. This occurs as intervertebral discs lose moisture and volume with age which decreases the disc height,
  • cauda equina syndrome. This is a medical emergency whereby the spinal cord is directly compressed. Disc material expands into spinal carnal which compresses the nerve. A person would experience pain, possible loss of sensation and bowel or bladder dysfunction. This could include inability to control urination causing incontinence or the inability to begin urination,
  • fibromyalgia. This results in widespread pain and tenderness throught the body. Generalized stiffness, fatigue and muscle aches are reported,
  • infections of the bones (osteomyelitis) of the spine are an uncommon cause of low back pain,
  • tumors, possibly cancerous, can be a source of skeletal pain,
  • inflammation of nerves from spine can occur with infections of the nerves with the herpes zoster viruses that causes shingles. This can occur in the thoracic area to cause upper back pain or in the lumbar are to cause lower back pain.
back pain, Truck drivers and back pain

WHY TRUCK DRIVERS SHOULD SEAT ON A MEMORY FOAM SEAT CUSHION WHEN DRIVING TRUCKS?

As a truck driver you are on your rear for long periods of time. A great memory foam seat cushion can save you from having back issues like sciatica, muscle degeneration or other health issues related to prolonged sitting while driving. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/back-pain/

Driving long distances is very common for truck drivers, so its common to expect truck drivers to sit for long periods of time. While driving truck doesn’t sound too bad, sitting for long periods of time inside a vibrating vehicle can cause damage to human body.

Since truck drivers sit for long period of time driving trucks most of the day, its important for them to think about the type of seat they may use. The benefits of sitting on memory foam seat cushion may be more than sitting on a regular seat. Not only does memory foam seat cushion provide much needed support, but it also feels more comfortable to sit down on for hours at a time.

Sitting for a long period of time while driving, without taking a break, can do various things to the body, especially to your bones, posture, ligaments and muscles. Sitting while driving encourages the body to slouch into a rounded, usually C-Shaped posture, which can roll the pelvis and cause strain in ligaments and muscles. This also can increase pressure within the body’s intervertebral discs leading to more pain and discomfort.

Sitting for long period of time while driving can cause the back to curves causing the head to push forward and cause strain to neck muscles. The strain within neck muscles radiates down the back. It also creates muscle contraction that creates fatigue while limiting blood flow to the neck and back.

Poor posture caused by sitting for a long period of time while driving can also compromise circulation within the legs.

EFFECTS OF VIBRATION

Vibration happens when a moving vehicle is in operation and can get worse if the vehicle passes over uneven road or pavement. The design of a large vehicle like a truck makes it more susceptible to harbouring minute vibrations, which do get ”absorbed” by the human body as the reverberate throughout the entire vehicle.

CHOOSING A SEAT CUSHION

Although many trucks and larger vehicles are fitted with comfortable seats, sitting on top of a memory foam seat cushion can add more benefit.

The memory foam in a seat cushion helps reduce pressure on the tailbone (coccyx) and lower back. The curved design also help improve circulation to the legs and improves posture, reducing pressure on the spine while evenly distributing body weight.

back pain, Spinal fusion

SPINAL FUSION

This is the surgery to permanently connects two or more vertebrae in your spine to improve stability, correct a deformity and reduce pain. https://www.evidence.nhs.uk/search?ps=50&q=spinal+fusion+operation Spinal fusion is recommended to treat:

  • herniated disk – may be used to stabilise the spine after removal of a herniated disk
  • spinal weakness or instability – spine may become unstable if there is abnormal or excessive motion between two vertebrae. This is the common side effect of severe arthritis in the spine, spinal fusion can be used to restore spinal stability in such cases
  • deformity of the spine – such as sideways curvature of the spine (scoliosis)

RISKS

Spinal fusion, as with any surgery, carries the potential risk of complications such as:

  • bleeding
  • blood clots
  • poor wound healing
  • injury to blood vessels or nerves in and around the spine
  • recurring symptoms
  • pseudarthrosis – this is the condition in which there is not enough bone function. Causes of pseudathrosis include diabetic, older age. Moving too soon before the bone is able to fuse may also result in pseudarthrosis

REHABILITATION

The fusion process takes time. It may take several months before the bone is solid. During the healing time, the fused spine must be kept in proper alignment. Right after surgery, your doctor may recommend only light activity like walking. Physical therapy is usually started from 6 weeks to 3 months after surgery. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and following doctor’s instructions will increase chances for successful outcome.

back pain

IS KEEPING MOVING GOOD WHEN YOU HAVE BACK PAIN?

Depending on the cause of the back pain and intensity of the pain, some exercises may not be recommended and can be harmful. However, moving is good for back pain. Moving can help ease stiffness, improve movement in joints as well as helping to get fitter in general.

The benefit of keeping moving are that, it:

  • facilitates increased blood flow and circulation. Improved blood circulation promotes tissue healing, reduced swelling and reduced pain
  • improved feeling of overall well-being