Back Pain: Causes and Relief Ideas

Back Pain
Back Pain

Backache is pain that commonly occurs in the lower back region due to strain of a muscle or ligament. Most people suffer from backpain due to lack of awareness and proper exercise.

Causes of back pain

  • A human back is composed of a complex structure of muscles, tendons, ligaments, discs and bones, which works together to support the body. 
  • The spines are cushioned with cartilage-like pads called discs.
  • Problems occurring with any of these components can lead to back pain. 
  • Back ache commonly comes from strain, tension or injury.
  1. Strain

Recurrent causes of back pain are:

  • strained muscles or ligaments
  • muscle spasm
  • muscle tension
  • damaged discs
  • injuries, fractures or falls

Activities that lead to spasms include:

  • To lift something improperly
  • Lifting something that is hefty
  1. Structural problems
  • Ruptured discs: The vertebra in the spine is cushioned by discs. When the disc ruptures pressure on the nerve increases, resulting in back pain.
  • Bulging discs: A bulging disc similar to ruptured disc that can result in more pressure on a nerve.
  • Sciatica: A sharp shooting pain that travels through the buttocks and radiates down to back of the leg. It is caused by bulging or herniated disc pressing on a nerve.
  • Arthritis: Osteoarthritis causes problems with joints in the hips, lower back, and other regions. In certain cases, the space around the spinal cord narrows and is known as spinal stenosis.
  • Abnormal curvature of the spine: Back pain can result, if the spine curves are in an unusual way; for example-scoliosis in which the spine curves to sideways.
  • Osteoporosis:  Vertebrae of the spine including bones become brittle and porous; it makes compression fractures more likely.
  • Kidney problems: Kidney stones or infections can cause back pain.
  1. Movement and posture


Back ache may result from everyday activities or poor posture.

Examples include:

  • twisting
  • cough or sneezing
  • muscle tension
  • over-stretching
  • bending for long periods or awkwardly 
  • pushing, pulling, lifting, or carrying something
  • standing or sitting for long periods
  • straining the neck, while driving or using a computer
  • long drive and hunch
  1. Other causes
  • Cancer of the spine
  • Infection of the spine
  • Sleep disorders
  • Cauda equina syndrome: It is a bundle of spinal nerve roots that appear from the lower end of the spinal cord. 
  • Symptoms include- 
  • dull pain in the lower back and upper buttocks
  •  Numbness in the buttocks, genitalia and thighs.
  • Bowel and bladder functional disturbances.

Risk factors

  • occupational activities
  • pregnancy
  • a sedentary lifestyle
  • poor physical fitness
  • older age
  • Obesity 
  • smoking
  • strenuous physical exercise or work
  • genetic factors
  • medical conditions

Symptoms

  • Weight loss
  • Fever
  • Inflammation or swelling on the back
  • Persistent back pain
  • Pain down the legs
  • Pain that reaches below the knees
  • A injury, blow or trauma in the back region
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Fecal incontinence, or loss of control over bowel movements
  • Numbness around the genitals
  • Numbness around the anus
  • Numbness around the buttocks

Chronic or acute pain

Pain is of two types: 

  • Acute pain that starts all of a sudden and lasts for up to 5-6 weeks.
  • Chronic or long-term pain develops slowly, lasts for a long period for about 3 months, and causes proceeding problems.

Treatment

Home treatment

  • Over-the-counter medications are administered for pain relief such as Ibuprofen or other non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs.
  • Applying a hot compress or an ice pack to the painful area may also lessen pain.
  • Resting from arduous activity can be helpful

Medical treatment

  • Medication: Codeine or hydrocodone may be prescribed for short periods but require close monitoring. 
  • Physical therapy: By applying warm compress, ice pack and electrical stimulation as well as muscle-release techniques to the muscles and soft tissues may help to alleviate pain.
  • Cortisone injections: These are injected into the epidural space, around the spinal cord. Cortisone injections are an anti-inflammatory drug which helps to reduce inflammation around the nerve roots.
  • Botox: It reduces pain by paralyzing strained muscles in spasm and is helpful for about 3 to 4 months.
  • Traction: Pulleys and weights are used to stretch the back to reduce pain
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): It includes relaxation techniques and maintaining a positive attitude.

Surgery

If a patient has a herniated disk, surgery may be an option, mainly if there is continuous pain and nerve compression which may lead to muscle weakness.

Surgical procedures include:

  • Fusion: The two vertebrae are joined together where a bone graft is inserted between them. 
  • Artificial disc: An artificial disc is inserted which replaces the cushion between the two vertebrae.
  • Diskectomy: In this a portion of a disc may be removed if it is pressing against a nerve.
  • Partially removing a vertebra: Small sections of a vertebra are removed if it’s pinching the spinal cord or nerves.
Back Pain
Back Pain

Prevention of back pain

  • Exercise: Exercising regularly helps to build strength and control body weight.
  • Two main types of exercises that an individual can do to reduce the risk of back pain:
    • Core-strengthening exercises that work on the abdominal and back muscles by helping to strengthen muscles that protect the back.
    • Flexibility training mostly aims at improving the core flexibility, including the hips, spine and upper legs.
  • Diet: It includes calcium and vitamin D which are required for bone health which also helps in improving bone weight.
  • Smoking: Higher percentages of smokers have back pain incidences than non smoking people.
  • Body weight: It plays a significant role in causing back ache. Individuals who carry their weight in the abdominal area versus the Hip area are also at greater risk.
  • Posture when standing: Stand upright by head facing forward, back straight, by balancing the body weight evenly on both feet. legs must be kept straight and head in line with the spine.
  • Posture when sitting: While sitting a good seat should have good back support, arm rests and a swivel base. If a keyboard is used, the elbows must be at right-angles and the forearms are horizontal.
  • Lifting: While lifting things, avoid strain on the back region rather use leg support.  

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