Back Pain

Pain in the back anywhere below the ribs and up to the hips is called low back pain. It is a condition that affects over 90% of the population at one time or the other. Next to common cold, it remains the most common reason why people seek medical help.

Many people who experience low back pain do not meet up with a doctor since it usually resolves on its own. They may suffer from any dull aches to sharp pains or even numbness. The pain characteristically lingers on for a day or two before it gradually subsides. In many, the pains keep recurring in varying intensities.

Pain in the back anywhere below the ribs and up to the hips is called low back pain. It is a condition that affects over 90% of the population at one time or the other. Next to common cold, it remains the most common reason why people seek medical help.

Many people who experience low back pain do not meet up with a doctor since it usually resolves on its own. They may suffer from any dull aches to sharp pains or even numbness. The pain characteristically lingers on for a day or two before it gradually subsides. In many, the pains keep recurring in varying intensities.

Why is back pain so common?

The curvature of the normal spine is such that, the bony column is weakest at two points. The cervical spine (the nape of the neck) and the dorsal spine are the weakest points. The lower back bears at least one half of the body weight. Hence, these points bear the brunt of repeated stresses and strains.

Every joint has an optimum position of function, departures from which increase the likelihood of strains and pains. Over time muscle strains lead to an overall imbalance in the muscle structure. There is constant strain on the muscles, bones, tendons, discs etc. The most common cause of back pain is poor posture. The real pain might be triggered by sudden lifting of weights, a sudden turn or a wrench, a fall on the back, sitting in a cramped position for a long time, horse-riding, riding a tractor etc. Occasionally, it won’t be one event alone which triggers your backache. You may have been doing things improperly for a long time » standing, sitting or walking, until suddenly one simple movement might trigger your pains.

These so-called last straws to the already overburdened back are some of the following:

   Trauma: acute or chronic » unusual lifting, sudden wrenches, fall etc.

   Psychic factors like depression can cause lowered (poor) muscle tone and cause backache

   Any acute illnesses can cause poor muscle tone

   General poor health

   Fatigue

   Pregnancy

   Obesity causes increased lordosis

   Faulty structure of feet

   Localized, focal infections

What makes backache worse is that once the pain starts, in order to avoid stressing the painful parts, we tend to perform actions ( walk, stand, lift etc.) with the use of other muscles which are not used to moving in that pattern. This further increases the stress on the muscles

Causes of backache

Apart from the above mentioned triggers, backache can be caused by a number of other conditions.

   Osteoarthritis (OA): with increasing age, the joints of the backbones undergo degeneration. OA of the joints that link one vertebra to its neighboring ones (called the facet joints) causes back pains.

   Osteoarthritis (OA): with increasing age, the joints of the backbones undergo degeneration. OA of the joints that link one vertebra to its neighboring ones (called the facet joints) causes back pains.

   Herniated Discs (disc prolapse): any heavy strain or increased pressure in the back can displace the round, resilient discs which act as shock absorbers for the back bones. They cushion every impact on the back such as when jogging, weight lifting, horse-riding etc. injuries, normal wear and tear, and diseases that affect the backbones can cause minor tears on the disc surfaces as well as make them bulge out from their places. Displaced discs can press on surrounding nerves and cause pain, tingling & numbness in the legs.

   Injuries and fractures of the vertebrae (backbone): conditions that cause nerve, bone and tissue injury can cause back pain ‘ vehicular accidents, fall from a bike, fall on the back compressing the structures in the back.

   Compression of the spinal cord itself (Spinal stenosis): the spinal cord travels through a narrow, hollow shaped bony canal called the ‘spinal canal’. With aging, the lumen of this canal tends to become narrow, compressing the contents within it. Back pain is a common symptom of spinal stenosis.

   Deformities: often the backbone curvature is damaged secondary to other diseases. The alignment which is usually straight tends to deviate either to the sides (scoliosis) or appear bent forwards (kyphosis). Long-term mal-alignment of the vertebral column can cause tremendous stress and strain on the supportive muscles that surround it. This usually gives rise to backache.

   Occupational: many occupations can take a toll on your back. If your work requires long hours of standing, lifting of heavy weights or sitting in an uncomfortable position, your back will possibly suffer.

   Athletes are very prone to low back aches.

Causes of backache

Apart from the above mentioned triggers, backache can be caused by a number of other conditions.

   Osteoarthritis (OA): with increasing age, the joints of the backbones undergo degeneration. OA of the joints that link one vertebra to its neighboring ones (called the facet joints) causes back pains.

   Vitamine D3 and Calcium deficiency:Routine blood test for Vitamin D3 and Calcium, bone density study will help evaluate the health of bones. Osteoporosis is a common condition leading to back pain.

   Herniated Discs (disc prolapse): any heavy strain or increased pressure in the back can displace the round, resilient discs which act as shock absorbers for the back bones. They cushion every impact on the back such as when jogging, weight lifting, horse-riding etc. injuries, normal wear and tear, and diseases that affect the backbones can cause minor tears on the disc surfaces as well as make them bulge out from their places. Displaced discs can press on surrounding nerves and cause pain, tingling & numbness in the legs.

   Injuries and fractures of the vertebrae (backbone): conditions that cause nerve, bone and tissue injury can cause back pain ‘ vehicular accidents, fall from a bike, fall on the back compressing the structures in the back.

   Compression of the spinal cord itself (Spinal stenosis): the spinal cord travels through a narrow, hollow shaped bony canal called the ‘spinal canal’. With aging, the lumen of this canal tends to become narrow, compressing the contents within it. Back pain is a common symptom of spinal stenosis.

   Deformities: often the backbone curvature is damaged secondary to other diseases. The alignment which is usually straight tends to deviate either to the sides (scoliosis) or appear bent forwards (kyphosis). Long-term mal-alignment of the vertebral column can cause tremendous stress and strain on the supportive muscles that surround it. This usually gives rise to backache.

   Occupational: many occupations can take a toll on your back. If your work requires long hours of standing, lifting of heavy weights or sitting in an uncomfortable position, your back will possibly suffer.

   thletes are very prone to low back aches.