It’s normal to have back pain occasionally, especially if you’re over 30 or have a physically challenging job standing or sitting. For many people, it goes away on its own. But if back pain lingers for months without cause, you may be experiencing the first signs of chronic back pain.
WHAT IS CHRONIC BACK PAIN?
“Back pain is considered chronic if it lasts three months or longer. It can come and go, often bringing temporary relief, followed by frustration. Dealing with chronic back pain can be especially trying if you don’t know the cause,” according to Hopkins Medicine.
But chronic back pain is different for everyone, with different symptoms, different tolerance levels, and different reactions to medicine or therapy. Sometimes, the symptoms can be treated with multiple strategies, including using ketamine.
IS CHRONIC PAIN A BIG DEAL?
Yes, and its consequences shouldn’t be minimized or ignored. It not only affects millions of people worldwide and often fuels the need for employers to offer comprehensive medical management services, but the World Health Organization calls it one of humanity’s leading sources of disability. Chronic pain leaves its tire tracks on about 50 million American adults; of those, about 44 percent are men and 56 percent are women.
Chronic pain and its evil twin, chronic back pain, harm all age groups and income levels, resulting in stress for individuals, families, and America. How bad is the economic burden? Some reports say the U.S. loses about $600 million a year due to lost productivity.
SYMPTOMS OF CHRONIC BACK PAIN
- Lasts more than a few weeks
- Is intense and doesn’t improve by resting
- Works its way down the legs, particularly if the pain goes below the knee
- Causes weakness, tingling or numbness in either or both legs
- Is paired with unexplained weight loss
- Burning sensations
- Discomfort which feels like it’s stinging, squeezing, or shooting
- Your back is constantly sore or stiff
Many of these symptoms may respond to store-bought pain relievers, therapy, and new treatments like ketamine infusion.
RISKS OF CHRONIC BACK PAIN
- Advancing age results in wear and tear on the spine which results in disc degeneration or spinal stenosis, for example, producing back and neck pain. This is especially true if you’re over 30 compared to someone younger.
- Certain spinal disorders may have a genetic component.
- Any job with repetitive bending and lifting, or that requires many hours of standing without relief or positioned in a chair that doesn’t offer back support puts you at greater risk.
HOW TO DIAGNOSE CHRONIC BACK PAIN?
If you have chronic back pain, you can expect to undergo many tests which may include:
- Blood tests to check for evidence of cancer, inflammation, infection, and/or arthritis
- Bone scans to discover and track a bone disorder, fracture, or infection
- A Discography
- Electrodiagnostic tests
- Diagnostic imaging tests like X-rays
WHAT HELPS WITH CHRONIC BACK PAIN?
In some cases, a doctor will first recommend a store-bought pain reliever or an assistive device for a sore limb before suggesting other treatments. In the case of chronic back pain and diagnostic procedures with inconclusive test results, a healthcare provider could also offer:
- Ketamine infusion therapy. Ketamine is thought to restore and reset connections between nerves throughout the body.
- Analgesics and NSAIDS (aspirin or ibuprofen).
- Alternative therapy like acupuncture.
- Behavioral therapy.
- Physical therapy.
- Spinal mobilization and spinal manipulation.
- Spinal injections.
- Chiropractic procedures.
- Implanted nerve stimulators.
- Rehabilitation programs.
SURGERY MIGHT BE AN OPTION IF …
Back pain is considered chronic when it lasts six months or longer and you don’t know what caused it originally. There are red flags to watch for, which may indicate the need for surgery:
- New or increasing bowel/bladder issues
- Weak limbs
- Walking and equilibrium problems
- Signs of faster (brisk) reflexes
CAN CHRONIC BACK PAIN EVER GO AWAY?
Each of us deals with pain differently, including chronic back pain. If a cause for your pain has been diagnosed and can be treated, there’s a chance the symptoms will disappear for good. However, remember the nature of the condition is such that it can strike anywhere, at any time.
If you’re experiencing back pain that’s become chronic – lasting for several months – and you don’t know what caused it, see a doctor for a diagnosis and treatment. Chances are high the pain won’t go away on its own, and even if you can function with it, it could result in other problems down the road. Many of the symptoms can be relieved with therapy, pain medication, and newer innovations like ketamine infusion.
About the Author
Dr. Aimee Harris-Newon Psy.D., DABPS, C.HT. is a double board certified integrative and interventional psychologist, entrepreneur, author, speaker, and master success coach. She’s considered an expert in integrative health and believes in a holistic approach-treating the body and the mind. She leads a very successful integrative and functional health and wellness practice, serving clients locally and internationally. She and her multidisciplinary team focus on wellness, preventive care and coaching to help people live healthier, happier and more satisfying lives. What makes her truly unique and exceptional is her broad and deep skill set and her approach to health and wellness.
As the founder and director of Dr. Aimee and Associates, and now The Center for Integrative and Functional Health and Wellness, Dr. Aimee Harris-Newon and her team of experts don’t just treat symptoms, they solve health problems, create better outcomes and change lives. Dr. Aimee Harris-Newon also hosts the popular radio show, Mind Over Matters on AM 820, which airs every Sunday morning at 10 a.m. CST.
For more info visit https://www.thecifhw.com/
How to Help Your Child if You Think They Might Have Autism
Do you suspect your child might have autism, but you’re not sure? While only a professional diagnosis can tell you for sure, there are many ways you can support your child while you get a diagnosis and create a plan.
Here are some of the best ways to support a child you think might have autism.
- Try a variety of therapies
While you’re in the process of getting a formal diagnosis, start trying different therapies with your child to see if anything resonates with your child. Every child with autism is different, so what works for one person may not work for another. There are several types of therapy you can try that are low-cost or free, including play therapy, speech therapy, floortime, ABA therapy, and more.
Although your child will need a formal Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) diagnosis to get ABA therapy, it’s worth noting that once you have a diagnosis, you can get in-home therapy, which will make things easier on you and your child. Organizations like Golden Care Therapy in New Jersey will send an ABA therapist to your home to work with your child in their own environment. Getting in-home therapy will reduce the stress your child may feel from being in a new and unfamiliar place.
The more therapies you try, the better chance you have of getting a head start in supporting your child, whether or not they get diagnosed with autism.
- Get your child some sensory toys
Kids with autism need to stim, which is just a fancy way of saying they need something to stimulate their senses in a way that allows them to mitigate and disburse the sensory overload they’re feeling. Without toys, kids will find ways to stim using just their bodies and their surroundings, but toys can be extremely helpful and less damaging depending on your child.
Every child is different, so it might take a bit to find toys they like. However, you can find some excellent suggestions from The Aspie World on YouTube. Some toys spin, squish, make noise, or are a series of magnets that can be reshaped. If your child is already fixated on certain types of toys, try to find something that matches their existing interest. For example, if they like soft textures, find some plush toys with a velvety-smooth texture. Try all types of toys to see if they help your child.
- Seek a professional diagnosis
Getting a professional diagnosis is the best way you can support your child when you think they might have autism. Once you have a diagnosis, that opens the door to getting services that will help them immensely. Not just while they’re young, but it will help them in their adult life, too. For example, if your child moves out on their own, and they struggle with self-care and household chores, they’ll need a professional diagnosis to get in-home services from the state.
A professional diagnosis will tell you if your child is on the autism spectrum, or if they have a different disorder. Depending on the therapist you choose, they’ll likely be able to diagnose your child with any relevant comorbidities, which are common with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
- Learn about autism
Next to getting your child professionally diagnosed, learning about autism will help you support your child in many ways. There are many misconceptions about autism that can make it hard to spot the signs of autism. One of the best people to learn from is Tony Attwood. He’s considered the leading expert on Autism Spectrum Disorder and is extremely knowledgeable.
One of the most important things you can learn from Attwood is how to spot Autism in girls. For various reasons, it’s harder to spot autism in girls and some girls don’t get diagnosed until they’re in their 40s. Attwood gave an excellent talk about Asperger’s in girls back in 2015, and you’ll learn a lot from this speech.
Although Attwood’s speech focuses on Asperger’s, it is part of the autism spectrum. As a diagnosis, Asperger’s has been officially merged into the diagnosis of Autistic Spectrum Disorder.
Support your child in every way you can
When you suspect your child might have autism, it’s important to support them in every way possible. While you’re seeking a professional diagnosis, start trying simple solutions, like play therapy and toys for stimming. See how they respond. Once you get a diagnosis, your child’s therapist will suggest next steps to help your child long-term.
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