Lower and Upper Back Pain: Diagnosis, Relief & Stretches

What Does the Upper Back & Lower Back Consist of?

Spinal anatomy is rather complex, the back being an intricate web of bones, joints, muscles, soft tissues like ligaments and tendons, nerves, vertebrae, and so on. To make things a bit easier, the back is typically broken down into four sections. In brief, they are as follows.

  • Cervical: This is the neck area, where the weight of the head is supported.
  • Thoracic: The upper back, designed to protect internal organs.
  • Lumbar: The lower back area, increased range of motion to carry the torso.
  • Sacral Spine: Involves the sacrum bone, connected to pelvis via sacroiliac joints.

What is Back Pain?

Well, in general whether we’re talking lower back pain or upper back pain, it’s a symptom of an underlying condition that needs to be addressed. Sometimes the pain will stay concentrated in certain areas, but sometimes it can spread or radiate through the extremities as well. Each of the four sections of the back have common causes of pain, for example pinched nerves, misaligned discs, herniations, arthritic conditions causing inflammation, or strained muscles.

How to Diagnose Back Pain?

The first step is to schedule an appointment with a chiropractic clinic like Better Health Alaska. During your initial visit you’ll talk about back pain symptoms with a chiropractic doctor while they perform a simple physical examination to explore range of motion, the pain you’re experiencing, and so forth. Then a focused x-ray will be conducted, instead of a general x-ray it looks at smaller more specific areas of interest – like certain vertebra rather than your entire midsection. All this together helps us reveal the cause of your back pain so it can be diagnosed and treated.

What Causes Back Pain?

Low back problems, which can result in pain and numbness in the low back, buttock, hips, legs and feet, can be caused by several factors. The most common factors contributing to low back pain include herniated or bulging discs, subluxations, degenerating discs or arthritis. However, back pain from resultant lower back muscle spasms can be severe, and back pain from a number of these types of conditions can become chronic.

These are several of the reasons why people seek back pain therapy at clinics like Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab, conveniently located in Anchorage, Juneau and Wasilla.

How to Relieve Back Pain?

You have a large array of options when considering back pain relief. Of course there’s lifestyle changes that involve your BMI and daily posture habits, alternative herb-based therapies that use micro-nutrients to ease inflammation, or chiropractic medicine. Better Health Alaska believes in a multi-disciplinary approach to back pain relief – incorporating elements of chiropractic care, chiropractic massage therapy, and rehabilitation therapy modalities into our treatment programs.

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How to Get Rid of Back Pain?

If you’re wondering how to cure back pain, or whether that’s possible, the answer is…it depends on your condition. Some causes of back pain can be completely healed or reversed through surgical and noninvasive means, or through medications and alternative treatments. Others simply can’t because they’re genetic in nature or we simply don’t have the medical wherewithal yet. At Better Health Alaska when we design a lower back pain treatment program for example, the goal is always to help our patients reach the best quality of life possible.

What are the Different Types of Back Pain?

First and foremost arthritic conditions, of which there are more than 100 – osteoporosis is among the most common. Then there’s bulging, slipped, and herniated discs, pinched nerves, sciatica and referred pain from other parts of the body. Pregnant women also commonly experience back pain, as do those dealing with conditions like fibromyalgia or cancer. What matters to you is your type of back pain and what’s causing it. If you’re in Anchorage, Wasilla, or Juneau, we can help.

How Long Does it Take for Lower Back Pain to Get Better?

It depends on the cause of your lower back pain, the severity, your medical history, your treatment program, and how long you’ve been in treatment. At Better Health Alaska we take a noninvasive multidisciplinary approach, incorporating elements of chiropractic medicine, massage therapy, and rehabilitative therapy for effective synergistic results. We’re happy to collaborate with other providers as well, and help you adjust your lifestyle to reach your goals.

Exercises for Lower Back Pain

At the very top of the list, is all three core plank positions – front floor-facing, and both sides. These strengthen your “core” (and improve overall posture) which includes the lower back, while requiring almost no movement other than getting into and out of position. Hip raises and bridges are two other big ones, as are wall-sits, which like planks and hip raises you can do pretty much anywhere. For gym-goes, be careful, but explore deadlifts, back extensions, and good mornings.

Stretches for Lower Back Pain

Oh wow, there are so many ways of stretching your torso and lower back to help address lower back pain. Consider the many poses in Yoga, or even the more basic stretches most people learn in high school. The top five would have to be:

  1. Lying Face-up Hamstring Stretch
  2. The Cat & Cow
  3. The Cobra/Superman
  4. The Knee to Chest Stretch
  5. The Child’s Pose

Back Massage to Relieve Pain

At Better Health clinics we incorporate chiropractic massage therapy in any back pain treatment program because of how much muscle plays into the picture. A massage helps release tension, relaxing surrounding muscle tissue in the back, while addressing knots or strains. For example, when it comes to lower back pain specifically, your massage therapist can isolate and help heal the relevant muscle groups in conjunction with a chiropractic adjustment to realign the spine.

Back Pain During Pregnancy

Very common during the second half of pregnancy, and on the one hand it’s great because the back pain is a sign the baby’s growing big and strong. For mom though, it’s tough and adds to the overall challenges of pregnancy. At Better Health, we help Alaskan moms out with exercises, massage therapy techniques, chiropractic adjustments, and anything else to ease the discomfort as the big day approaches.