If you are experiencing back pain, you are not alone. More than 65 million Americans report a recent episode of back pain and more than 16 million deal with chronic back pain1. It probably comes as no surprise that back pain healthcare-related costs are astronomical, amounting to more than $12 billion a year. And many people miss work, causing them to lose income. Others suffer from anger and depression as well.

In this post, we’ll look at the different areas of back pain, what it feels like, and possible causes.

No “One-Size-Fits-All” Treatments

Addressing the causes of back pain and working to correct things like posture and overall health can make a huge difference in the life of someone dealing with back pain. Approaching back pain through a comprehensive treatment plan with chiropractic can also save thousands of dollars in healthcare costs in the long run. Best of all, people who have little to no back pain report feeling less nervous and anxious than those with chronic back pain issues.

An important thing to note is that every person is different. Every injury is different. There is no one-size-fits-all treatment plan for any patient that entrusts their care to me. I listen to my patients, hear and understand their goals, conduct the necessary tests needed for diagnosis, and then I plan out their treatment. There are so many causes of back pain and I want my patients to have the greatest chance of success so our treatment plans are all individualized.

Areas of Back Pain

There are three main areas of back pain:

  • Upper (thoracic)
  • Middle
  • Lower

Upper Back Pain

This is the area around your neck and it can become tight, limiting movement and causing pain down the sides of your neck, shoulders, and back. Pain and tightness here can also lead to migraines and headaches. Remember, everything in your body affects everything else in your body. If one area of your body, like a vertebrae, is not in alignment, that can easily cause pain throughout parts of your body.

Middle Back Pain

Middle back pain can be caused by poor posture, injuries to other areas of your back, sitting all day, or just sleeping in an awkward position.

Lower Back Pain

This area can be injured through a slip or fall, by lifting something too heavy, or by repetitive movements like swinging a bat. Injuries, like a herniated disc, here can cause spasms, which are quite painful, and can interfere with normal, everyday movements and work.

How the pain feels

Back pain can feel different to different people.

Here are some questions a chiropractor may ask about your back pain

  • Does it feel like a stabbing pain?
  • Is the pain dull?
  • Does it hurt only when you make certain movements?
  • Can you sit or stand without pain?
  • Does anything make the pain better or easier to handle?
  • Does your back pain interfere with your daily life?
  • Does it restrict movement, work, or sleep?
  • Are there other symptoms related to your back pain like swelling, chest tightness, or numbness?

The duration of pain is also an important aspect a chiropractor will consider when planning treatment.

Consider these questions

Is the pain acute?

  • Does it last longer than a day, a week, a month?
  • How long have you had back pain?
  • If you’ve had back pain longer than about three months, it may be considered chronic pain.
  • Oftentimes, a back injury is not given the proper time and treatment to heal, which leads to chronic back pain.

Chiropractic solutions to back pain

Can a chiropractor really help alleviate back pain? Do I need to think about expensive surgery? Can natural remedies without drugs truly help me get back to the life I want to live without back pain? These are all valid and normal questions you should be asking when considering a visit to a chiropractor.

At Greenville Spine, we do everything possible to help you achieve your goals and get your body where you want it to be, which, in the cases of back pain, means working towards alleviating that pain without drugs or surgery. Through expert spine manipulation, consistent adjustments, and exercises done at home, the vast majority of my patients that come in with back pain experience extensive relief. How? Stay tuned to our next post where I’ll talk about how I work with patients who have back pain, give specific exercise to get you started on the path towards decreasing back pain, and why a chiropractor is a good option for those experiencing back pain.

1 B. Druss, Marcus, S., Olfson, M., and Pincus, H.A. (2002). “The Most Expensive Medical Conditions in America.” Health Affairs, 21(4): 105-111.
2. M. BenDebba, W. S. Torgerson, D. M. Long (1997). “Personality Traits, Pain Duration and Severity, Functional Impairment, and Psychological Distress in Patients with Persistent Low Back Pain.” Pain 72: 115-125.