Back plays a very important role in a human body. It is composed of a complex structure of muscles and ligaments that supports the body and enables us to stand, move around, and indulge in almost every physical activity. The inconveniences with any of these bodily structures can lead to back pain which might range from severe to moderate. This is very common among people from all age groups due to their sitting and standing position.
Do you think why you have a back pain every time? Well, the cause of back pain is still unknown. The back pain varies from one person to another. Some of its symptoms suggest that back pain has a more serious cause that includes fever, weight loss, and numbness.
In most cases, back pain gets cured and one does not go to a doctor. Back pain is accompanied by many symptoms; some of those are included below. If a person experiences any of these symptoms, it might be a sign of a back pain; the doctor should be informed about it.
- Fibromyalgia – Fibromyalgia causes pain in the entire body. A person has painful tender joints that hurt a lot even after taking medicine. In this condition, the affected person should not indulge in any kind of exercise. The symptoms of fibromyalgia differ from one person to another, but symptoms such as stiffness, fatigue, and issues while sleeping are common. Apart from back pain, patients also experience stiffness in the shoulders and neck. Patients complain of feeling extremely tired, especially waking up and feeling pain in specific areas called tender points. Many patients complain about stiffness, which is worse in the morning and increases as the day passes. Any physical exertion increases the pain.
It can be improved by adopting lifestyle changes that include a change in diet and exercising daily.
- Degenerative arthritis –This condition occurs due to an internal damage caused to the facet joints. The surfaces of the joints are lined with smooth cartilage that allows movement. Both sides of the joint rub against each other, thus allowing a free movement. In case of injury or internal damage, apart from back pain, patients may also experience stiffness and pain in bending over. The joints are smaller when compared to the body weight they bear. The stress and strain may cause damage to the cartilage. Injuries and other internal and external damages over a lifetime may cause the joints to degenerate.
The spinal facet pain in the lower back pain may, later on, lead to osteoarthritis.
- Inflammatory arthritis – It is a group of disease caused due to inflammation of joints and other tissues. In this condition, there is pain in the lower back, together with morning stiffness in the hips or both; in some cases. There is also pain, feeling of tiredness and stiffness in the neck or the chest. Other symptoms of this disease include psoriasis, eye pain, and fever; depending on the specific disorder that is causing the back pain.
- Osteoporosis – This condition is different from rheumatoid arthritis and other forms of arthritis as it only affects joints without affecting organs or soft tissue areas of the body. It is often characterized by thinning and weakening of bones that fracture easily. It is most common in postmenopausal women. When vertebrae are compressed because of a fracture, along with a slight to moderate slouch, it may result in back pain. This condition does not cause any pain unless a bone fractures.
- Cancer in the Spinal Column: If cancer spreads to spinal nerves that control the bladder and bowel, there may be bowel incontinence. Its symptoms depend on various factors, including the tumor type, size, age and health. Some of the common symptoms include back pain, numbness, weakness and difficulty while urinating. These symptoms even get worse with time.
Sometimes the symptoms may occur quickly and sometimes slowly and it may take hours and days. Metastatic spinal tumors, which spread to the spine from a different location in the body, progress quickly.
- Protruding disk : A spine intervertebral disc when sustains an injury to the spine, it is commonly referred to as Protruding disk. This injury can not only occur in the lower, upper , and middle back, but also at the cervical spine. People with significant disk disease go through severe pain in the lower back. If a disk compresses a nerve, the pain may spread down to one leg. In this condition, one should avoid bending or twisting. It is mostly caused due to poor posture while sitting and standing. To lower the effect of poor posture on the spine it is necessary to continuously maintain a good posture or regularly change the posture.
- Back sprain: A series of ligaments and muscles hold the bones of the spinal column together. A person may strain these muscles by stretching them too much. This can even tear the tissue.
The muscles get weak due to which it cannot be held at one place. Because of this, the spine gets a little unstable and causes back pain.
Back pain usually occurs after heavy exertion in which muscles in the back, buttocks and thighs get stiff.
One can avoid back pain by improving one’s physical condition by adopting certain changes in lifestyle.
- Exercise: One should start their day with light aerobic activities that do not strain the back. This can increase the strength of the back by allowing the muscles to function better. Walking and swimming are the most recommended form of exercise. Alternatively, people can talk to a doctor about which activities they should indulge in.
- Build muscular strength: One should practice abdominal crunches and back muscle exercises that strengthen muscles so that they can work together. Communicating with the therapist to know the right exercises is important.
- Watch your weight: Being overweight strains the muscles of the back. Overweight people should cut down on their weight in order to avoid back pain.
- Quit smoking: Smoking is definitely injurious to health. It is difficult to quit it at once; therefore, one should talk to their doctor about ways to quit it.
People suffering from back pain should bring about some changes in their normal routine and temporarily avoid lifting heavy items and sitting for long hours. If a patient is recovering from back pain, they can ask the doctors to follow up regularly to know whether the symptoms have been cured or not. Once the symptoms have relieved and the patient feels decrease in the intensity of the back pain, they should go back to their normal routine.
Ans: Depending upon the cause, acute pain may have the possibility to come back. In case if you have undergone surgery as a treatment, then there are fewer chances that the pain might return, this is specific to your back surgery. Also, in the non-surgical treatment, the level of pain can be reduced, but doesn’t cure properly.
Ans: Patients suffering with back pain for more than a week should reach out to the doctor if they are facing following issues like:
- Numbness in entire body,
- Trouble in urinating
- Weight loss,
- Pain in chest
- Swelling in the back
- Loss of bladder
Ans: One need not necessarily doctor consultation for back pain. Sometimes, home remedies can help in recovery.
- OTC painkillers like Paracetamol or Ibuprofen are helpful
- Take proper rest and change sleeping position in order to avoid
- Regular exercising can increase flexibility of the back.
- Patients should stay calm in order to live tension-free and recover soon.
Ans: There are numerous surgeries that are available for the treatment of back pain. These surgeries are performed to relieve a compressed nerve of any pressure whatsoever, to improve the deformity like scoliosis.
- Spinal fusion: Joining of two or more vertebrae with a section to stabilize and strengthen the spine.
- Discectomy: The removal of prolapsed disc that pressed nerve to the spine. These days microdiscectomy is the most common course of treatment to treat back pain.
During this procedure, the medical surgeon makes a big cut in the back for the sole purpose of removing all or some parts of the disk. Alternatively, the surgeon might be able to perform this procedure through a small hole in the back, this is known as microdiscectomy. As opposed to discectomy, microdiscectomy is performed through a smaller incision and with the help of an operating microscope.
- Artificial disks: An alternative to spinal fusion for painful movement between the two vertebrae.
- Laminectomy: In this surgery, a bone is removed from one of the vertebrae that compress a nerve into your spine. This surgery reduces pressure on spinal nerves and can ease pain. But in the future, this procedure can make your spine less stable.
Ans: In the initial stages, back pain can be cured at home. While sleeping try to keep pillow in between the knees as lying on one side can make you feel better. Some doctors even recommend you to do this. Exercising mostly helps in case of chronic back pain. Try avoiding taking a heating pad directly on the skin. Most experts agree that bed rest is associated with recovery period.
Ans: Medicines like Ibuprofen, that is available as an OTC product is the most advised medication for short-term treatment of the back pain. While medicines like Acetaminophin and Celebrax gives best results in back pain.
Ans: The doctor may ask you to determine the reasons for back pain. Some of the tests involved are:
- X-ray: This test provides image that shows the alignment of bones and whether the patient have arthritis, displaced bones or tumor.
- CT scan: This test gives you detailed and cross section images of bones in spine or problems with muscles, tendons and ligaments.
- MRI scan: MRI’s are used to diagnose spinal disorder to reduce the spinal infection. This test gives detailed images of vertebrae and nerve roots.
Ans: Acute pain triggers in the nervous system that makes you cautious that something might happen. Acute pain can last for a long period, sometimes even years. This happens if physiological condition is ongoing, if the patient is suffering with arthritis.
Ans: Back pain, persistent or non-persistent, can be caused due to several rare underlying conditions such as:
- Bone diseases
- Shingles (an infection that affects the nerves)
- Congenital (inherited) spinal defects
- Cancer spread to the spine
Ans: Yes. Slouching (referred to as a posture when the shoulders and upper back are not straight and are bent at angle) is bad. In most cases slouching can lead to chronic muscle strain symptoms such as inflammation of the neck, pain and inflammation of the upper back and shoulders, and spasms. People with long sitting hours and desk jobs should ensure that they keep their upper body muscles straight at all times. This will help in maintaining a good posture.
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