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Back Pain – Causes and Treatment

Back pain is a very common problem worldwide. And the interesting thing about back pain is that it is usually not due to any serious disease. Most episodes of back pain get better quickly. Simple analgesics (pain-relieving medication) and a change of activity are generally all that is needed.

However, the first step for managing back pain is to rule out the possibility of any medical problem, such as infection or fracture. Although, these are rarely the causes, believe it or not.

Here is something about structure of your back…

Your back provides support for your pelvis, legs, ribcage, arms and skull. Your spine is made up of bones called vertebrae that are stacked together to form a loose ‘S’-shaped column.

Each vertebra connects with it’s next by spongy tissue or cartilage called inter-vertebral discs. The discs have a flat structure with a jelly-like centre. Vertebrae are joined by pairs of small joints known as ‘facet’ joints. A mesh of connective tissue called ligaments holds the spine together.

Complex layers of muscle provide structural support and allow movement. The spinal cord runs through the centre of the vertebral stack and connects the brain to the rest of the body.

So what exactly causes back pain?

Most people with back pain have rarely any problem with their spine. The pain comes from the muscles, ligaments and joints. Some common causes of back pain include:

Arthritis – osteoarthritis and ankylosing spondylitis are two forms of arthritis which may cause back pain.

Other important reason for backache is muscle and ligament strains. When muscles and ligaments are subject to sudden or heavy loads, they are easily injured. Lifting a heavy load the wrong way, an unusual bout of exercise or even bad posture over a period of time can cause back pain.

If your age is menopausal, osteoporosis may be your problem. This disease is characterized by loss of bone density and strength. The vertebrae can become so porous and brittle that they break easily. This causes severe pain.

Also, when the nerve that runs from the lower back into the leg is compressed by any cause, it can cause back pain.

And one important enemy of today’s life is stress! One of the side effects of stress is increased muscle tension. This can lead to fatigue, stiffness and localized pain.

Lifestyle factors contribute to back pain…

The factors include lack of exercise, obesity, a sedentary life, poor posture, excessive stress and many more.

Now can we prevent back pain?

The answer is yes. In most cases, back pain can be prevented by making a few lifestyle changes.

Regular exercise to improve posture and increase muscle support of the spine, is the key to reducing back pain. Try walking instead of using the car. 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity every day helps a lot.

Lifting and carrying safely is very important. If you are picking up a heavy load, squat down, hold the object as close to your body as practical and lift by using your legs (keeping your back straight). Get some help from another person if the load is too heavy to manage comfortably on your own.

Cut down on your weight if you are obese. Maintaining a healthy body weight is critical.

Be aware of your posture. Consider your posture, particularly in seated positions such as when driving or sitting at a desk for long periods of time. Don’t slump, keep your back upright and use support where necessary.

Take regular breaks while driving, standing or sitting for long periods of time. This will help change the position of your joints and loosen your muscles. A short walk and a few stretches will help prevent back pain.

Some relaxation techniques are helpful to reduce stress levels and related muscle tension. Massage, heat or cold packs and gentle exercise is advised. You may wish to seek treatment with a specialist back and spine doctor.

So follow above easy tricks and fight back pain!

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