What Is Back Pain?
Back pain is one of the most common reasons that everyone is suffering through, it affects people of any age group and for different reasons. This may be affected by injury, activity, and some medical conditions. There are three types of back pain, upper back pain, middle back pain, and lower back pain.
Upper back pain: This is between the neck and lower back this is caused due to poor posture, this may occur anywhere from bottom rib cage up to the base of your neck. This is not as common as lower back pain.
Middle back pain: this is also known as thoracic back pain, this is felt in the region between the bottom of the neck and top of the lumbar spine.
Lower back pain: As the people grow older there is a chance of developing lower back pain. This mainly linked to the bony Lumber spine, ligaments around the spine and discs, spinal cord and nerves, lower back muscles, abdominal and pelvic internal organs, and the skin around the Lumber area.
What causes back pain?
There are many numbers of reasons that cause back pain. Generally, the human body is composed of a complex structure of muscles, ligaments, tendons, disks, and bones, which work together to support our body. Problem with these components can cause back pain. Different problems of back pain are as below:
- Strain: This is caused by strained muscles or ligaments, muscle spasm, muscle tension, damaged disks, injuries, fractures or falls. This may also occur by lifting something improperly, lifting that is too heavy while making an awkward movement.
- Ruptured disks and bulging disks: if the disk ruptures in the spine, there will be more pressure on the nerve this results in the back pain.
- Sciatica: a sharp pain that travels from the buttock and the back of the leg, caused due to bulging of the disk.
- Arthritis: Osteoarthritis is mostly caused in the lower back, hip joints, and also in the space around the spinal cord narrows. This is called spinal stenosis.
- Abnormal curvature of the spine: if the curve of Spine is unusual, then it results in back pain. This is called Scoliosis, where the curve of the spine is to the side.
- Kidney Problems: kidney stones and kidney infection also causes back pain.
- Movement and posture: poor posture and everyday activities may also cause back pain some of them are twisting, coughing or sneezing, muscle tension, over-stretching, bending awkwardly, sitting or standing for a long period, straining the neck forward while driving or using a computer, diving for a long session without a break, sleeping on an unsupported mattress.
- Back pain in pregnancy: several factors cause back pain during pregnancy, it is better to consult a doctor. The factors that cause back pain in during pregnancy are shifting center gravity as the baby grows there will a lot of stress on the spine to change the balance, weight gaining during pregnancy is a healthy factor but during those 9 months, it gives lots of stress to the muscles at the back. During this period, the body releases hormones that loosen the spine which leads to discomfort and pain.
- Other causes: some other medical conditions like cancer of the spine, infection of the spine, pelvic inflammatory disease, bladder infection, Caude equine syndrome, sleeping disorders, shingles, mental and health conditions, obesity, etc.
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Risk factors that cause back pain:
Anyone can develop back pain, even children and teens. There are some factors that may develop back pain:
- Back pain is common in elder people around 30 to 40 years.
- Lack of exercise to muscles in the back and abdomen may also lead to back pain.
- Excess body weight is also the main reason for back pain.
- Some types of diseases like arthritis, cancer, etc can cause back pain.
- Lifting objects by using back instead of your legs may also lead to back pain.
- People who tend to be in depression and anxiety appear to have the risk of back pain.
- Smoking is also a major reason for back pain. It reduces the blood flow to the lower spine, it also slows healing.
Back pain symptoms:
The main symptoms of back pain are
Pain anywhere in the back and sometimes in the way down to the buttocks and legs. Due to affected nerves, there will be pain in other parts of the body. The people who suffer from back pain feel like a knot or tightness in the muscle, slight pain at the back when we take a deep breath and when we move our neck or shoulder forward. Occasionally the pain becomes more at night or prolonged sitting.
The pain goes away without treatment, but it occurs along with some of the following factors you need to consult a doctor:
Weight loss, fever, inflammation or swelling on the back, continuous back pain which does not help in lying down or resting, pain in the legs, pain till knees, any injury, blow or trauma to the back, difficulty in urinating, numbness around the buttocks, anus, genitals, and urinary incontinence.
How to treat back pain:
Most of the people will not need any extensive treatment for back pain. It gets reduced in a few weeks of home treatment depending upon the pain and the person. For some, it may last for a long period. If in case it does not within a month, they should consult a doctor.
Medication for back pain: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications(NSAIDs) like Ibuprofen, Naproxen is used to relieve back pains, Pain relievers or analgesics such as Acetaminophen are also used optionally. We need to be careful with medications like ibuprofen, that should not be used by people with kidney problems or stomach ulcers.
Topical pain relievers: These are creams or ointments that contain ibuprofen and lidocaine, these work better when they are rubbed on the skin at the place of pain.
Muscle relaxants: These are used for lower back pain, these medicines act on the central nervous system to reduce pain.
Antidepressants: If the back pain is severe, then the doctor suggests to take Amitriptyline an antidepressant which cures nerve-related problems.
Steroid injections: These injections are mostly suggested by a doctor when the person suffers from severe back pain these injections usually wear off the pain for three months.
Surgery: it is the final stage of treatment and is rarely needed for back pain. If the person suffers from severe, unremitting pain, and nerve compression and spinal fusion. This is done to relieve pain caused by degenerative bone diseases.
Alternative medicine: other than these medications there are some other therapies that help to relieve back pain are acupuncture, massage, chiropractic adjustments, cognitive behavioral therapy, and relaxation techniques.
Diagnosis for back pain
Diagnosis required if the pain lasts for more than two weeks and has not improved as expected. This may be because of the injury in the spinal disc if this happens following tests may be ordered by the doctor.
Xray: these are a form of electromagnetic radiation that is used to take the image, to know the signs of alignment bones, damaged muscles, spinal cord, nerves or disks.
MRI or CT scans: can reveal damaged disks or problems with tissue, tendons, nerves, ligaments, blood vessels, muscles, and bones. This is considered after one month of symptoms to rule out more serious underlying problems.
Bone Scans: can detect bone tumors or compression fractures. In this, a radioactive substance is injected into a vein, which helps the doctor to detect bone problems with the help of a camera.
Nerve studies: electromyography measures the electrical impulse produced by the nerves. This test is to confirm nerve compression caused by disk injury or narrowing of our spinal canal.
Home remedies for back pain:
These are the traditional back pain treatments, its better to consult a doctor before starting it. Some of the home remedies are as follows:
Heat or ice therapy:
Ice packs help in relieving the pain and lessen inflammation in acute phases of back pain. This should be not be applied directly.
These warm compresses are also used inflammation.
Exercises: This helps to increase posture and strengthen the muscles of the back and abdominal muscles. Doing exercises involves improving posture, using proper lifting techniques, strengthening core muscles, stretching muscles to improve flexibility
Essential oils: The essential oil or ointments are made with capsaicin which helps reduce back pain.
Salt baths: Salt baths are the best relievers for muscle aching. While soaking, we need to add Epsom salt to boost our back, our body absorbs the minerals from the salt and helps in reducing muscle aching.
Massage: it helps the muscle to relax when it is caused to tense and overworked.
Yoga: this involves practicing specific postures or poses, breathing exercises, and relaxation techniques. This helps to improve the posture and strengthening the muscles.
Preventive measures of back pain:
We can lower the risk of back pain mainly are addressing some of the risk factors:
Exercise: regular exercise build strength and control body weight, we need to talk to the health care professional, aerobic activities can boost your heart health without straining or jerking the back.
Diet: we must include enough amount of calcium and vitamin D to keep bone healthy. A healthful diet also controls body weight.
Smoking: a Higher percentage of smokers have back pain when compared to non-smokers of the same age, height, and weight.
Body Weight: as the weight increases there is a risk of developing back pain, people who carry their weight in the abdominal area and the buttocks and hip area are also at greater risk.
Posture when standing: make sure when you stand upright, head facing forward, back straight and balance the weight of the body on two feet equally and keep your legs straight and your head in line with your spine.
Posture when sitting: when sitting, try to keep your knees and hips level and keep your feet flat on the floor, or use a footstool. You should sit up straight with support in the small of your back and also make sure that your elbows are at right angles.
Lifting: while lifting things use your legs rather than your back. Keep your back straight as you can, keep your feet apart so that you can maintain balance. Bend your keens to lift the weight of the body.
Moving things: it’s better to push things across the floor, using your leg strength, rather than pulling them.
Shoes: flat shoes place less of a strain on the back. So it is advisable to wear flat shoes.
Driving: make sure that you take proper support of your back and see that the mirrors are positioned properly so that you need not twist. The pedals should be square in front of your feet.
Bed: you should sleep on the mattress that keeps your spine straight, while at the same time supporting the weight of your shoulders and buttock.
Exercises that help your back pain
Gentle exercises and easy exercises can help to ease back pain and prevent future problems.
BRIDGES: bridges work on person gluteus maximus, which is the large muscle of the buttock. It is the important muscle of the body that supports the lower back. this should be done 15 times and then rest for 1 minute
Knees to chest stretch: doing this exercise can help in elongated the lower back and reveals tension and pain. This should be done 2-3 times twice a day.
Lower back rotational stretches: these stretches relieve the tension in the lower back and trunk. It gentle works on the core muscles to improve stability. This should be done 2-3 times a day.
Lying lateral leg lifts: this works on the hip abductor muscles. This helps the pelvis and can help reduce strain at the back it should be done 3 sets on each leg every day.
The cat stretches: these cat stretches help to lengthen the back and make it stronger and can reduce the tension of the back muscles. This should be done three times twice a day.
Supermans: a person needs strong back extensors to maintain good posture. These muscles run along either side of the spine. This gives pelvic support.
Partial curves: in this exercise abdominal muscles play an important role in supporting the spine and keeps the hip properly aligned, this should be done 3 sets each side in a day.
Back pain is the most frequent musculoskeletal complaint world wide. It can be reduced by a prescribed medication