Being one of the most common reasons for absence from work, school and sometimes even doctor’s appointments, it may be uncomfortable and painful but not usually severe. Although it can affect people of any age, it is more common in people between 35 and 55 years of age. In the majority of cases the pain is not caused by anything serious, and with time gets better on its own. There are many options as to how to relieve the pain, but most of the time it just keeps coming back. The number one cause of back pain may be:
Strain: Strained muscles, ligaments, and a spasm. The things that can actually lead to this may be as a result of improperly lifting of anything, particularly heavy loads, or maybe as a result of an awkward or somewhat abrupt movement, or poor posture.
Spine Related Problems
Often, it occurs because something is not right in the way the spinal joints, muscles, discs, and nerves fit and move. The doctor can check to see if one has: a slipped disc (herniated disc), this disc is a soft (spongy) piece of cartilage that sits between vertebras. It separates the bony vertebra from one another, so they do not rub against each other. In case of a slipped disc, this soft piece of cartilage is no longer in place and has come off. This may be as a result of the wearing, tearing and shrinking of the disc. Often, it is due to aging or an accident.
- Bulging Disc: although not as much as in a slipped disc, this bulge can press on a nerve and result in pain. It is usually asymptomatic and is only noticeable when it pushes on a nerve and instigates pain.
- Spinal Stenosis: this is a usual case with people over 60 years of age, this occurs as a result of the narrowing of the spinal canal, which leads to the feeling of numbness in the legs and shoulders.
- Degenerative Disc Disease: the spinal disc (shock absorbers) will shrink or tear as a result of old age, and causes the bones to rub against each other. This disc acts as a cushion, and with age, it wears out.
- Arthritis: patients with osteoarthritis often experience problems in their joints. Especially the joints of the hips, lower back, knees, and In some cases, it can lead to the development of spinal stenosis, which is the term used to describe the narrowing of the space around the spinal cord.
- Sciatica: this is a sharp and shooting pain that travels along the buttocks and down to the back of the leg, usually as a result of a bulging or herniated disk pressing on a nerve.
- Wear and Tear of the Sacroiliac Joint: this is located exactly where the spine and pelvis meet each other. It does not move so much, but it is crucial in moving the weight of the upper body down to the lower body. The swelling and wearing away of this joint cartilage can occur after an injury, due to arthritis, infection, or in most cases even pregnancy.
- Spondylolisthesis: A bone in the spine slides forward and moves out of place, more frequently in the lower back. The degenerative form of the condition is arthritis (discussed above), which makes the joints and ligaments weak in keeping the spine in place. It can make a disc to move forward over a vertebra.
- Lifestyle: most back pains are as a result of the things one does while carrying out daily activities. Some of this things include; lifting heavy loads; slouching on the work or school desk; lack of exercise; overweight; always on high heels; driving for too long without a break; overstretching; standing or bending for a long time; to much tension on a muscle; even smoking.
- Emotions: Do not underestimate the power of feelings in terms of causing pain. Stress can bring about muscle tension in the back, while depression and anxiety may make the pain feel worse than it is.
- Cauda Equina Syndrome: the caudal equine is a spinal nerve roots bundle; it arises from the lower portion of the spinal cord. People with cauda equina syndrome feel a rather dull pain in the area of the lower back and upper buttocks, as well as an absence of feeling in the buttocks (numbness), genitals and thighs. Sometimes one may also experience bowel and bladder dysfunction.
- Abnormal Curvature of the Spine: if the spine curves in an unusual manner the patient is more likely to experience continuous back pain. An example is scoliosis which is a condition characterized by the one-sided deviation of the spine to one side.
- Tumors: although this occurs in rare cases, one has the possibility to get a tumor in the back. They are often spread by cancer that started somewhere else in the body. Less-common causes include Kidney stones; an infection; Endometriosis (a build-up of tissue, usually uterine tissue, outside the uterus); Osteomyelitis (an infection in the bones and spinal disc); Fibromyalgia (a condition that causes a muscle pain that spreads).
The back is a complex structure that is made up of muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones, and intervertebral discs. A problem in any of the anatomical structures that make up the spine can lead to pain. The spine is divided into four areas: cervical (the neck area), thoracic (the upper back area), lumbar (the lower back area), and the sacral part.
Back pain can be classified into two, acute back pain and chronic back pain, based on their nature, depending on how long the patient’s symptoms last, the pain can be short-lived symptoms (less than three months), are also classified as acute pain. Conversely, symptoms that last longer than three months are automatically classified a chronic back pain. The symptoms of spine pain can also range from mild to severe, intermittent or constant. In addition to the physical pain, patients may also experience psychological symptoms like depression that are often linked to the back pain. The symptoms that accompany back pain can be so severe for some people that it inevitably affects the quality of life they live, which can be quite disturbing.
Back pain. (2017). NHS .uk. Retrieved 20 April 2018, from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/back-pain/
Back Pain. (2018). National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Retrieved 20 April 2018, from https://www.niams.nih.gov/health-topics/back-pain
Back Pain | PainDoctor.com. (2013). Pain Doctor. Retrieved 20 April 2018, from https://paindoctor.com/conditions/back-pain/
DerSarkissian, C. (2018). Causes of Back Pain. WebMD. Retrieved 20 April 2018, from https://www.webmd.com/back-pain/causes-back-pain#1
Gerard Malanga, M. (2018). Which Medications Are Best for Acute Low Back Pain?. SpineUniverse. Retrieved 20 April 2018, from https://www.spineuniverse.com/conditions/back-pain/low-back-pain/conclusion-acute-low-back-pain-medication
Peggy Pletcher, C. (2017). Back pain: Causes, symptoms, and treatments. Medical News Today. Retrieved 20 April 2018, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/172943.php
Watson, S. (2011). Top Causes of Low Back Pain. WebMD. Retrieved 20 April 2018, from https://www.webmd.com/back-pain/features/causes#1