Back pain can occur due to any disturbance caused to the nerves in the spine, back muscle pain, injury to the disc, bones or joints in the spine. It is a common condition experienced by every person at some point of life. The pain may be intermittent and can be caused due to certain postures or activities. It may show consistency in one place or might spread to other areas like pain in the lower back might move on to the legs or arms or hands. In most of the cases, back pain can be relieved within two weeks or may proceed to months in prolonged conditions.
Specific back pain: The pain might occur due to damaging conditions of the spine like the nerve in the back getting disturbed, slip of the disc or inflammation of the joints located at the base of the spine.
Non-specific back pain: The pain may be caused by muscle sprains, injuries or minor irritation in the nerves.
Based on the period of occurrence of the pain, it can be categorized as:
Acute back pain: The pain takes less time to appear and disappear. Injuries to the back or neck may cause acute pain which lasts not more than six weeks.
Chronic back pain: The persistent state of pain for a longer period is said to be chronic.
The pain might continue to be present in the same are for more than 3 or 6 months.
There are some contributing factors for the incidence of back pain in every common person. Some of its symptoms include:
- Acute pain in the lower back while bending, walking or performing other activities
- Stiffness around the waist
- Numbness and weakness in the legs
- Piercing pain and burning sensation in specific area of the back
- Pain in the legs
- Problems in mobility
- Pain while getting up from bed
- Continuous pain while sitting for long hours
Though the symptoms seem to be associated with common physical stress, it might lead to chronic condition if the pain is ignored in the initial stages.
Back pain may arise with an irritation in various regions like muscles, bones, joints, nerves and other parts of the spine. Strain in the lumbar muscle is the major cause for back pain. People who sit or stand for long hours might experience acute pain in the back. Herniated disc or slipped disc might also cause back pain. Spinal stenosis, particularly found in old people might be one of the reasons. Spondylolistesis and osteoporosis can also cause chronic pain. Rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, ankylosing and spondylitis are some of the other causes. Incorrect postures while sitting or sleeping might cause pain in the back. In women, the pain is commonly found during pregnancy and menstrual period. The pain might be caused due to spinal fractures in some cases.
However, the causes may be very serious at every situation. It might sometime cause a muscle pain or a spasm which may disappear within a short time.
A physical diagnosis is usually suggested to understand the exact or underlying cause for back pain. Various aspects like history, age and medical background are considered by the physician. Tests like X-ray, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and bone scan, blood tests like CBC, Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate, CT scan, myelography, electromyography and discography pinpoint the severity of the pain.
Commonly back pain can be relieved without treatment in few days. In severe cases where the patient experiences chronic pain, traction, corsets and electrical nerve stimulation might seem to be helpful. Heat and cold pack in which a cold bag of ice is placed on the back to reduce inflammation is the considered to be the best treatment. The pain lasting for more than 48 hours is treated with a heating pad to relieve muscle tension. Low stressful exercises and massage therapy suggested by experts prove to be helpful in reducing pain. Spinal manipulation in the initial stages of back pain would improve the condition where force is applied on the spine to adjust its position. To relieve pain and swelling epidural steroid injections may be prescribed. Anti-inflammatory drugs like diclofenac, ibuprofen, detoprofen, oxaprozin etc may be included as medications for the treatment of back pain.
Back pain is an intermittent pain that can spread over to the other areas of the body. Most of the complications include weakness and numbness in the arms and legs, lack of movement and flexibility. In later stages of development, back pain might result in permanent disability. Women tend to ignore back pain but it might cause infertility if timely treatment is not taken.
The general tendencies of back pain are experienced by every individual at some or the other stage of life. Back pain prevented by performing stretching exercises regularly. It is better to avoid lifting heavy objects beyond one’s capacity and avoid sudden loading on the back. Standing, sitting and sleeping postures need correct position. Avoiding injuries on the muscles to possible extent would help in preventing back pain. Wearing right kind of shoes, reducing obesity, handling the posture while handling loads are some of the other preventive measures.
It is advisable to change one’s position from time to time without sitting in the same position for long hours. In take of Vitamin C diet would reduce back pain. Cold and hot pads can be placed on the back to reduce pain. A soft massage with garlic oil and eucalyptus oil would relieve pain. The best home tip is to take cuscus grass mixed adding sugar with milk twice a day.
Nevertheless, with good posture, balanced diet without developing obesity, brisk walking and simple healthy exercise would make one get rid of back pain to a large extent.