Viscous Cycle for Back Pain

Viscous Cycle for Back Pain

The Basics

Back pain is the second-most common neurological ailment in the United States, next to headache. Research shows that Americans spend at least $50 billion each year on low back pain.

In addition, back pain is being cited as the most common cause of job-related disability and a leading contributor to missed work. This also exhibits a major impact on the economy and general development of a community on the whole.

Viscous Cycle – An Introduction

In the pain management terminology, a viscous cycle is basically defined as a process in which a single factor becomes both, the cause and effect of a certain medical condition.

The condition is typically characterized by the presence of a single or set of factors that perpetuate certain conditions. Eventually these factors also become one of the consequences of the condition, thereby again becoming a cause of the same.

For instance, a poor posture might lead to lower back pain, which in turn will force the individual to sit in an improper posture, thus causing further back pain.

The Back Pain Cycle

Muscle spasms are the key concept involved in development of the viscous cycle for back pain.

Low back muscle spasms are continuous or interrupted cramps that are caused by an undue stress or injury of muscles and ligaments of the back. The purpose of these spasms is to basically splint or protect a nearby painful nerve, joint or ligament.

Under normal circumstances, these muscles contract and relax as the body moves. This pattern is disturbed when the muscle is overworked or injured due to some reason. Consequently, the relevant muscle becomes oxygen-starved and the balance is upset.

The body reacts to this by sending pain signals to alert the nervous system. This eventually enhances the pain all the more.

In such cases, the following cycle normally sets in:

  • Pain——-Spasm——-More pain——– More spasms

The Terror Triad

Generally, physicians refer to this condition of the painful viscous cycle as the ‘Terror Triad’.

When pain increases to the peak, it starts interfering with the everyday work and disrupts normal activities. In such a scenario, pain might cause a person to become preoccupied with the pain and is irritated and depressed in the process. Depression and irritability will further lead to insomnia and weariness, causing even more irritability, depression and pain.

Physicians usually refer to this condition as the terrible triad of:

Suffering Sleeplessness Sadness

Causative Factors

There are a vast series of factors that lead to the development of back pain and ultimately the viscous cycle.

Poor back-muscle tone, muscle tension or spasms, back sprains, tears in ligaments or muscles and joint problems are some of the most common causes marking onset of the lower back pain.

With age, both the bone strength and muscle elasticity tend to decrease. Consequently, the discs begin to lose fluid and flexibility, which in turn decreases their ability to cushion the vertebrae.

Here we’ve briefly listed the most significant causative factors involved in this condition.

Herniated Disk Collapsed Vertebra Spondylolisthesis Pyelonephritis Shingles Ankylosing Spondylitis Pregnancy

Certain degenerative conditions such as arthritis, osteoporosis, viral infections, irritation to joints and discs and congenital abnormalities in the spine are also known to be the causes of lower back pain.

Lastly, lifestyle deformities such as obesity, stress, poor physical condition, inappropriate posture and poor sleeping positions are the other common causative factors.

Treatment Methods

Back pain is generally treated with a host of methods, as a part of the multidisciplinary approach followed for the treatment. In this section, we discuss the main modalities involved.

A multidisciplinary pain center allows treatment possibilities of variant natures. These forms of treatments include:

Pharmacological treatment Rehabilitation programs Cognitive Behavioral therapy Psychological counseling Minimally invasive techniques

Alternative therapies also form an additional component of the multidisciplinary approach. The main forms of alternative therapies include:

Acupuncture Biofeedback Stress reduction Diet modification

Medical professionals involved in the multi-disciplinary approach include a pain management specialist, physical therapist, rehabilitation specialist and an occupational therapist.

Specialists in psychology, psychiatry, behavioral science and other areas also play an important role in a comprehensive multidisciplinary approach.