Most of us will suffer with some form of the dreaded back pain at some stage in our lives. It is one of the most common problem areas we treat at our clinic.
The areas of the back include the Thoracic region – upper and mid back, the Lumbar region – lower back and our Sacral region – base of the spine. Your back is a complex structure made up of bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons and discs which act as shock absorbers and cushions between each vertebrae of your spine.
Anyone can get back pain at any time but some things can increase that risk;
Poor physical fitness
Being heavily overweight/ obese
Certain symptoms that can indicate pain include:
Previous injury to back, traumatic experience in your life,
Persistent aching or stiffness anywhere along your spine,
Shooting or stabbing pain in the neck, upper back or lower back pain that radiates down your leg or arm
Limited flexibility or range of movement in the back
Inability to stand up straight
Inability to stay in the one position
Sitting or standing for prolonged amounts of time
The causes of back pain can be countless; however, some of the causes could be
avoidable. The main causes of back pain include:
Muscle strain or Ligament sprain
Repetitive heavy lifting, not lifting something correctly, a sudden awkward
movement, sleeping in an awkward position or something as simple as
overreaching can cause pain.
Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis or Ankylosing Spondylitis can all contribute to back pain.
Bulging or Ruptured Disc
The soft material inside a disc can bulge, as mentioned before, out of back of vertebrae, or possibly rupture causing localised back pain. It is worth noting that bulging and ruptured discs may not always be the root of your pain as many of us may suffer with a ‘Disc Bulge’ and have no back pain at all.
If a bulging disc presses on the main nerve that travels down your leg it can cause sciatica which is a sharp, shooting pain through the buttock and back of the leg.
Poor positioning is not as simple as standing and sitting incorrectly. Not having your desk/ workstation set up correctly at work or
not having your car seat at the appropriate height for you can all contribute to poor positioning and thus back pain.
Inherited Diseases and Skeletal Abnormalities
Back pain can develop if your spine curves in an abnormal way -Scoliosis. Spondylolisthesis, Stenosis, Kidney Stones, Infections and Fibromyalgia can all contribute to back pain.
Some of the hormonal changes during pregnancy that women experience may contribute to back pain, along with the added weight, putting more pressure on the back.
What can we do if you have Back Pain?
This is always the difficult part, do you put up with the pain and hope that it will go away in a few days?
It is important you discover how your pain started and where the pain is originating from. This may involve help from your doctor, physiotherapist or healthcare practitioners.
If you are suffering from a very acute episode of back pain then you will, possibly, be required to take some anti-inflammatories to help reduce pain and inflammation.
The old theory was that bed rest is the best option for you, but evidence-based research has shown the importance in avoiding prolonged bed rest as it can lead to muscle atrophy, and this can often further compound your back pain.
Once you are past the ‘acute 48hr phase’ aim for small walks to let your muscles get moving again. If you need to rest or pain increases continue taking anti-inflammatories while you get back on your feet, Aim to try see your physiotherapist or health practitioner who will then provide you with a rehabilitation programme to get you back up and going again.
As your pain decreases and your back mobility starts to return to normal, we can then look at ways to improve your positioning and help increase your knowledge that regular use of these exercises can help prevent the pain from returning.
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