Lower back pain

JESSICA MAWU-KOENYA BANSAH

Back pain is a common disease that affects most people at some time in their lifetime. Back pain can occur anywhere at the back: the upper back, the lower back, the middle back. Back pain is caused by several factors; some which are due to lifestyle and habits whilst others are as a result of accidents, muscle strains and sports injuries. This article will focus on low back pain, its causes and remedies.

The back

When people talk about the back, they are actually referring to the spine. The spine is a stack of 24 bones called vertebrae. A healthy spine is S-shaped when viewed from the lateral or side view.

It curves back at your shoulders and inward at your neck and small of your back. The spine is responsible for movement and support/structure. The spine allows you to bend and be flexible. It also houses and protects the spinal cord- the column of nerves that transmits messages between the brain and the rest of your body.

There are other structures present in the back that can cause back pain. Below are some:

· Large muscles- muscles at the back support the spine and allow for movement.

· The spinal cord- it contains nerves that arise from the base of the skull (head) and run to the pelvic region.

· Facet joints- the joints within the vertebrae connect bone to bone.

· Intervertebral discs- they serve as shock absorbers for the bones.

Humans engage the back everyday in their activities such as twisting, bending, sudden jolts(movements/push) or sitting hunched over. Any of these structures is capable of overlapping and altered which can cause back pain. There are different causes of backpain but the symptoms are mostly same.

Low back pain (LBP)

Low back pain is very common as it can affects about 84% of adults of which about half of them will have more than one episode. Low back pain affects people of all ages but common among adults between 30-50. In a research conducted, low back pain was the second ranked cause of abseentism at the workplace in countries such as the US, etc. Severity of symptoms differ among individuals. Some are self-limiting, which go away on their own without any specific therapy or treatment but some cause agonizing pain enough to be hospitalized. Low back pain can be acute, sub-acute or chronic depending on the cause and treatment. Acute back pain can last from a few days to weeks but chronic back pain is will last longer than three months.

Causes of low back pain

1. Strain – simply an injury to a muscle or a tendon of the spine. Other cuases include muscle tension and damaged disks. Activities that can cause this include:

- Lifting something wrongly or improperly.

- Lifting a heavy object.

- Moving suddenly.

2. Movement and posture

Sitting hunched over especially when using by a desk or using the computer. Any movement or posture which is done wrongly for a long period of time may cause low back pain.

3. Other medical conditions can cause low back. Below are a few:

-Cancer of the spine

- Infection of the spine

-Shingles

-Sleep disorders

Although there can be many underlying causes for LBP, often no specific reason can be found.

Risk factors of low back pain

These are conditions that can increase a person’s chance of getting low back pain.

- Obesity

- Body height

- Old age

-Depressive moods

-Occupational posture

Back pain is not a disease but a constellation of symptoms.

Different types of low back pain

a)      Axial pain/Mechanical pain

This type of pain is restricted to one spot or region. The pain can either be sharp or dull, constant or throbbing and it comes and goes. Muscle strain, facets joints and annular tears usually causes this type of pain.

b)      Referred pain

Referred pain does not stay at one spot like axial, instead, the pain moves around and the intensity varies. Causes may include degenerative disc disease. This pain occurs at the hips and thighs.

c)      Radicular pain

This type of pain occurs when the spinal cord becomes injured. This type may travel from the lower back to the leg. Radicular pain is sometimes referred to as sciatica or radiculopathy (accompanied by weakness/ numbness)

Treatment

When the doctor is able to identify the type of pain, where the pain exists then a diagnosis can be made and treatment can begin.

1.      The most recommended type is a physical therapy or exercise. Exercise will help the spine, support and improve flexibility. A physical therapist commonly known as a physiotherapist can create routines that can help relieve pain and restore the spine or back to normal.

2.      For people with throbbing pain, medications may be prescribed. Over-the-counter drugs , ice and heat may all prescribed depending on the type.

3.      You may be referred to a chiropracter,( a doctor of the bone) especially ones that involves the spinal cord.

4.      Massages or acupunctures may be recommended depending on the type.

5.      In a worst-case scenario, surgery will be performed especially if it involves the bone. An example is a disc-surgery.

6.      Counselling can be recommended for people who have chronic back conditions.

Low back pain is a common symptom among people. Good posture as well as exercise can prevent it most of the times. When in constant pain, see a doctor because it might be worse than you expected.

References

1.      Webmd. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/back-pain/understanding-back-pain-basics

2.      Spine health. Retrieved from https://www.spine-health.com/blog/understanding-different-types-back-pain

Health

JESSICA MAWU-KOENYA BANSAH

A young lady who is excited to influence the society and world with the knowledge she has acquired.