Your backbone is not one bone at all but many. The spine is formed by 24 vertebrae (small interlocking bones) and the protective discs that separate them. The spine is sectioned into three parts, cervical, thoracic, and lumbar. The cervical spine consists of the first seven vertebrae below the skull, the neck. The back is split into the thoracic (the upper back, 12 vertebrae) and lumbar (the lower back, usually 5 vertebrae) spines.
The cause of back pain is nearly always entrenched in the spine. Damage or strain can lead to pain, aching or stiffness, limited range of motion and postural problems, and even muscle spasms. Here at Rock Creek Spine and Rehabilitation, our chiropractors are doctors of the spine, and we specialize in determining the cause of your back pain and helping you find relief.
Finding the Root
The key to knowing how to care for back pain is to first determine what the body is trying to communicate with the pain signals it sends. The back is such a broad (and deep) area, and it is critical to categorize what kind of pain is experienced and from where it stems.
The “where” of back pain usually comes down to upper or lower back.
Upper back. Pain in the thoracic spine is less common as this section of the spine is supported by the ribcage. The thoracic spine ranges from the bottom of the ribcage to the base of the neck. These bones, in conjunction with the ribcage, keep the body stable and erect.
Low back. Lumbar pain is the most common form of back pain. This section of the spine extends from the base of the ribcage to the sacrum, the vertebrae that join the spine to the pelvis. The lumbar spine must hold its own, which allows the body to twist and bend at the waist. However, this mobility exposes the low back to strain.
The duration of back pain is defined by one of two ways, acute or chronic.
Acute. Acute back pain is short-lived, resolving in no more than six weeks. The cause is usually identifiable.
Chronic. Chronic back pain may be prolonged for months to years. It may follow an old injury or arise from overuse. Chronic back pain can flare up at unexpected intervals.
When classifying back pain, it is important to also know how the pain is manifest.
Axial. Axial or mechanical pain remains in a targeted area. This is the most common way back pain presents itself.
Radicular. Radicular pain radiates out from a trouble source and can extend down entire extremities. This kind of pain is also called sciatica.
Referred. Generally caused by injuries to the nerves, referred pain can move from one localized area to another, i.e. from the low back to the pelvis or thighs.
Your spine serves the dual role of holding you upright and allowing you a broad range of mobility while protecting your spinal cord. This central role in your body’s functionality exposes the spine to an equally broad range of causes of back pain, including injury, disc damage, strained muscles, degeneration and fatigue, and nerve irritation. Even lifestyle elements such as poor posture, heavy lifting, sedentary habits, and obesity can lead to back pain. Your chiropractor will work with you to determine the cause of your back pain so a treatment tailored to you can be found.
Chiropractic treatment has a joint goal of restoring mobility and minimizing pain. It works under the principle that the body has the best tools for healing itself, and to that end, our chiropractors strive to restore your spine to its proper alignment so that it may function as it is meant to.
If surgery is not called for, there are many options available for treating back pain, including rest, massage therapy, chiropractic adjustments, spinal manipulation, traction, physiotherapy, spinal decompression, laser therapy, targeted exercises, and physical therapy. For the full spectrum of treatment options, we offer to relieve and treat back pain, feel free to call us at Rock Creek Spine and Rehabilitation in Broomfield, CO today.