Back pain affects almost 80% of the adult population in the United States. Some causes, such as sports injuries, will resolve on their own. Others, however, are long-term, chronic, and disrupt daily life.
If you're suffering from regular or worsening back pain, you could have a form of spondylosis. Keep reading to find out more about the signs and symptoms, and how to manage your back pain.
What is Spondylosis?
Spondylosis is the term used for a range of degenerative conditions of the spine. It affects the bones in the spine, known as the vertebrae and may sometimes be referred to as osteoarthritis. It can affect a small area of the spine or most of it, from the base of the skull down to the lower back.
The issues caused by spondylosis are not caused by muscular tears or sprains, but a degeneration of the bone or spinal disc condition over time.
It can affect anyone but tends to be first noticed in early to mid-adulthood. It gets worse with age as the body naturally degenerates, which is why early detection and treatment is important.
Some types, such as thoracic spondylosis, will cause no problems until much later in life, while other types will be obvious much earlier on as they cause restriction of movement or continued and worsening chronic pain.
Signs and Symptoms
There are several signs and symptoms to look out for. These may also be symptoms of acute back injury, such as a muscle tear from exercise.
The key difference between an injury and spondylosis is time: an injury will lessen as time goes on, but spondylosis pain will continue and worsen.
See your doctor if you're experiencing any of these symptoms on an ongoing basis:
- Neck pain
- Back pain
- Stiff movement in the spine
- Back soreness in the morning
- Lower back pain
- Difficulty bending over
A definite diagnosis will help you to determine the best course of action for pain management and prevention of further degeneration.
Pain Management Techniques
The hardest thing about degenerative spinal conditions is the chronic pain patients experience. Your physician will prescribe you suitable pain medications if they are required, but there are many things you can do in addition to help reduce and manage your pain.
A physiotherapist will be experienced in handling all types of spondylosis. They will be able to recommend regular exercises to help maintain movement and flexibility in your spine.
You may also receive a massage to help alleviate pain caused by muscle tension in the back.
Steroid injections can help to reduce long-term pain. A registered physician will be able to provide these for you.
A facet injection has two purposes. The first is to locate the exact source of your pain. The injection will numb the area, and if your pain is completely gone then the source of your pain will have been located.
The second purpose is to inject a steroid into the joint or joints to reduce inflammation over a longer period of time than oral daily painkillers.
The reduction of inflammation will help you to regain some mobility for a while, which means you will be able to conduct other pain management strategies, such as light exercise, with more ease.
Lumbar or Cervical Pillows
Whether you need support when you're sitting in your favorite armchair or need some pain relief while you're asleep, special pillows can help.
V-shaped pillows can help people with cervical spondylosis. The shape of the pillow helps to reduce pressure on the neck while you sleep.
A lumbar pillow will provide additional support to those who suffer from lower back pain, such as ankylosing spondylosis sufferers.
A Specialized Mattress
Getting a good night's sleep is vital to reducing chronic pain and improving your wellbeing. Some mattresses are designed to provide additional support to back pain sufferers.
If you have a long-term sleeping problem, consider upgrading your mattress to a specialized product designed to minimize the pressure of your body on the mattress surface. A memory foam mattress, for example, can help to suspend your body to more natural contours than a box spring would.
You may even want to consider investing in a bed that can be altered into a range of positions automatically, especially if your back pain confines you to bed rest most of the time.
An Ergonomic Chair
An ergonomic office chair or a supportive armchair at home can make all the difference for a back pain sufferer.
Find a chair that has been designed with your condition in mind. Mesh-backed office chairs, for example, provide tension and support without adding pressure to the back.
An armchair that can be raised automatically to a standing position may help those with severe back pain who have difficulty getting from the sitting to the standing position.
Acupuncture is widely recognized as a suitable pain management therapy for spondylosis sufferers.
Very thin needles are placed at certain points in and around the area of pain. The patient is left to relax with these needles in situ for a while before they are removed.
It sounds painful, but it doesn't hurt and can reduce your chronic pain on a long-term basis.
A Back Brace
A custom back brace will help to reduce pain as it provides additional support to weak muscles around the spine. It also reduces your range of motion to protect you from causing more damage.
A back brace is ideal for short periods of time, for example when you go to work, to help reduce pain. It should be removed for some parts of the day, however, such as in the evening. This will prevent your muscles from relying on the brace, keeping them as strong as possible to help support your spine.
Losing weight will reduce the pressure on your vertebrae. It can be hard to lose weight when you have back pain, as your movements will be restricted and pain will limit your activities.
However, a controlled diet alone can help you to lose weight slowly and safely over time. This will ease the stress on your spine and help you to reduce your back pain, as well as minimize future damage caused by wear and tear.
Light exercise such as walking or swimming will help you to retain your range of movement and keep your bones and muscles healthy. It can feel hard to exercise when you're experiencing pain, but even a few minutes of gentle stretching will help to improve blood flow and maintain flexibility.
Weight-bearing exercise such as walking will help maintain bone density, which will limit problems caused by thinning bones, too.
Other Treatment Options
If your back pain causes significant difficulty on a regular basis that cannot be managed with the above techniques, there are further treatment options available.
Spinal fusion, for example, is a surgical procedure that fuses two vertebrae together. This reduces your movement but will help to minimize your pain.
When your own pain management techniques don't work, it's time to speak to an expert. Book a consultation with us today to discuss your spondylosis treatment options.