Understanding Your Back Pain
Low back pain is the single leading cause of disability worldwide, and one-half of all working Americans admit to having back pain symptoms each year. To people who have experienced low back pain they know how debilitating it can be. The low back is made up of complex system of bones, cartilage, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and nerves. Injury to any of these structures can cause significant pain. The most commonly injured area of the back is the spinal column, which is the structure that supports your body when upright, and also houses and protects the spinal cord. The spinal column is made up of a series of bony structures stacked on top of one another, these bones are called vertebral bodies. The vertebral bodies are separated from each other by cartilaginous discs. These discs cushion the spinal column and allow for movement. The bones and discs alternate from top to bottom. There are 24 vertebral bodies and 23 discs in the human spine: 6 in the neck (cervical spine), 12 in the middle back (thoracic spine), and 5 in the lower back (lumbar spine). Vertebral discs are important because of their relation to back and neck pain.
Back pain can arise from tight and strained muscles, sprained ligaments and inflammation. But the great majority of low back injuries involve the vertebral discs and because the discs are so close to the spinal cord and exiting nerves, disc injuries are also some of the most painful back injuries. (For more information on back pain from disc injuries check out our health blog) Many studies have been done to evaluate the effect back pain has on the current population. Recent statistics include:
- Before age 40 approximately 25% of people will show evidence of a disc injury at one or more levels and the percentage rises to 60% after that.
- Back pain leads to over 225,000 work related cases of injuries involving back pain in 2011.
- These injuries represent about 20% of all work related cases.
- It is estimated that Americans spend $50 billion a year on health care for back pain.
It is best to get a low back injury evaluated while symptoms are present but even old injuries can cause problems. New or old injury, getting a problem diagnosed correctly is the key to getting proper treatment. The doctors at DSM Spine+Sport will get to the bottom of your injury quickly and give you a specific plan to get better fast.
If you are experiencing low back symptoms now or have in the past, call to set up an appointment or use our online scheduling on our homepage.