Back pain can be frustrating, and the cause isn't always clear. It could be as simple as a pulled muscle, or something a little more difficult to pinpoint. Read on for three common conditions that may be causing your back pain.
The gallbladder is an organ located in the upper righthand portion of the abdomen. It's primary purpose is to store bile from the liver, and then distribute it to the intestines to help digest fatty foods. Sometimes, bits of bile harden to form gallstones.
Gallstones may cause no symptoms at all. However, they can also cause stomach pain, heartburn, and diarrhea. The pain can radiate into the back, particularly between the shoulder blades. Treatment for gallstones usually requires removing the gallbladder entirely, although some people find that sticking to a low fat diet resolves the symptoms.
The spine is made up of vertebrae, separated by discs. The discs are made of a soft, jelly-like interior with a harder shell. Their primary purpose is to prevent the vertebrae from rubbing together. These discs can crack, exposing the interior and, eventually, causing vertebrae to rub together. Generally, discs crack as a result of age.
Symptoms of a herniated disc depend on where the damaged disc is. Some people experience no symptoms, but in those that do, there may be back pain that radiates into the arms or down the lower back. There may also be some numbness, due to nerves surrounding the herniated disc. Anti-inflammatory pain relievers, muscle relaxers, and cortisone injections are all used to treat the condition. Physical therapy may be recommended, and, in rare cases, surgery may be necessary to fix the disc.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
No one is exactly sure what causes Irritable Bowel Syndrome (also known as IBS). It could be brought on by an infection, or a weakened immune system. Food sensitivities may also play a role. In spite of its uncertain origins, IBS affects nearly 20% of all Americans.
IBS can cause a wide variety of symptoms, including bloating, stomach pain and cramping, gas, and diarrhea. The stomach pain can be so intense that it radiates into the back. Because there's no clear cause for IBS, there's also no one-size-fits-all treatment option. A doctor may recommend probiotics, an elimination diet to see if symptoms are brought on by any particular foods, exercise, and reducing caffeine intake.
If you are experiencing back pain, talk to a physical therapist, like those at Bronx Physical Therapy LLP, to see if any of the above three conditions may be to blame.