Back pain is no new term that you haven’t heard of in your daily lives. Back pain is a prevalent ailment today and a significant reason for absenteeism at work and increased attendance at doctor’s clinics. People of different ages and genders may be impacted. As a matter of fact, women experience comparatively more back pain than men.
The spine, without a doubt, is extremely significant to your body and plays a crucial role in it. Your spine, for instance, bears your weight, is flexible, supports your spinal cord, and does much more. Knowing minor biology about your back can be intriguing and vital. So, how is our back structured?
The backbone or the spine is one of the body’s most vital parts and provides us with great flexibility and strength. This functionality is possible due to the structure of the backbone. It consists of 24 irregular bones, called the vertebrae, that sit on top of each other, and are separated by discs. The vertebrae form a passage for the spinal cord to connect the brain with the body keeping the communication within the body intact.
These structures are then protected and supported by several ligaments and muscles. The muscles attached to the spinal column allow us to move quickly and keep the spine bearing the body’s weight. Hence the health of these muscles is quite essential as it directly affects the pressure on the backbone.
We can divide the backbone into four different sections.
The first seven vertebrae can be called the cervical spine, starting from the head. The cervical spine supports the head’s weight and allows smooth neck movement.
Then comes the thoracic spine, which contains 12 vertebrae between the cervical and the lumbar spine. The thoracic spine is made to protect the heart, lungs, liver, and small intestine.
Next up, we have the lumbar spine, which consists of 5 vertebrae. This is the part that consists of the lower back. The lumbar has the ability for the most motion and carries the body’s weight. Hence this part is the most prone to pains and aches.
The sacral region contains a bone known as the sacrum, which makes the back of the pelvis. Below the sacrum is the coccyx AKA the tailbone. Both the structures are integral to
several functions like walking, standing and sitting.
Causes of back pain
Now that you are aware of the complex structure of a human back. It would be easier for you to synthesize the fact that there are a multitude of reasons for back pain in young adults. Having composed of several different parts, a problem with any of these parts could lead to back pain.
Here are some of the common reasons for back pain:
You can pull a muscle or strain a muscle when you overstretch or
tear a muscle fiber. A strained muscle in any body part is hurtful, but
the pain worsens when it’s in your back. This can also happen when the muscles
are overworked. When there is a pulled muscle in your lower back. You will
notice some pain along with swelling.
The afflicted area may also be tender to touch; in some cases, one may see bruises or redness. These conditions may be challenging to walk, stand or bend. The pain usually radiates to your buttock but doesn’t necessarily reach your leg. This might lead to muscle spasms and cramps in your back.
At its core, inflammation is the body’s response to cure any damage or fight any foreigner. It’s the condition when the immune system is overstimulated and releases too many white blood cells and other anti-inflammatory substances into the blood. We may experience two types of inflammation, acute and chronic inflammation. Where Acute inflammation is short-lived and lasts for a few hours and days, chronic inflammation is prolonged that lasts for months or years.
Acute inflammation is a protective or healing response of the body, whereas chronic inflammation is self-triggered and can be hazardous to one’s health. Chronic inflammation is greatly affected by the lifestyle choices one makes, choosing the lift over stairs, choosing samosa and vada pav over home-cooked food, or deciding to stay up till late than to sleep on time. Chronic inflammation has a lot of lifestyle triggers, along with autoimmune diseases.
Arthritis is a word typically used a lot these days, but we can understand it by breaking it into halves. Arthr means joints, and itis is inflammation in medical terms. So, when you experience some kind of tenderness or pain or swelling in your joints, it can be arthritis.
Arthritis in the back can be due to many other types of arthritis that, combined together, may cause tenderness and pain in the back. It can also be called spinal arthritis, which causes stiffness and lower back pain. This stiffness is worst in the morning and eases with increasing activity in the day, then worsens by the end of the day. In this, the pain runs from the back to the buttocks and feels like it hurts in the hip. The pain worsens in the night, as there is an accumulation of fluids due to inactivity overnight.
When we break down the word, we understand the meaning better; osteo refers to bones, and porosis means a condition in which the bones become more porous. In this condition, the bone density reduces, and the bones become more prone to fractures and any other damage. Its common triggers are age, hormonal imbalance, and increased body weight.
Osteoporosis in the back may lead to the weakening and degeneration of the vertebrae, which may further lead to crimpling or collapse of the bone. This may lead to back pain, reduced height, and stooped posture. This might lead to spinal fracture or hip bone fracture.
As we know, the back comprises the vertebrae, supported by a small cushion-like structure called the discs. When the disc protrudes or moves into the spinal canal, the spinal canal doesn’t have enough space to accommodate both the disc and the spinal nerve. This displacement of the disc presses the spinal nerve resulting in severe pain in the back. Due to
the pressed nerve, one might experience weakness and numbness in the area of the body to which the nerve is connected.
A herniated disc may happen over time due to age and degeneration of the disc. But this can also occur because of a single episode of strain in the back. This can happen to any part of the spine, but the lumbar spine is more vulnerable to getting a herniated disc.
The sciatica is the longest and thickest nerve in the body. This nerve starts from the hips, down the leg, and ends slightly under the knee. Sciatica is the name for any pain that originates from any irritation or injury to the sciatica nerve in the gluteal or hip area. The nerve is connected to the spine at the lumbar and sacrum regions.
One can experience mild to severe pain anywhere along the track of the sciatica nerve, from the lower back to the leg. Depending on the lifestyle of a person, the occurrence of the pain can be gradual or sudden. Major risk factors include age, previous injury, obesity, sedentary life, weak core muscles, and smoking habits. The most common reason for sciatica is herniated disc or ruptured disc that leads to compression of the nerve root.
A tumor is an abnormal multiplication or growth of the cells or group of cells, or it can be the cells that should have died but didn’t. A tumor can develop in any part of the body, like bone, tissue, skin, or other organs. A tumor can be cancerous or noncancerous.
The tumor that affects the back can either be a spinal cord tumor or a vertebrae tumor. The spinal cord tumor grows within the spinal cord.
The vertebrae tumors grow and develop in the bone and affect the vertebrae. The symptoms for both are back pain in the area of tumor development, muscle weakness, difficulty walking, pain radiating to other body parts, and loss of sensitivity in the legs and arms.
Apart from these common causes, there are a few risk factors that can trigger the occurrence of the pain. These are body weight, age, amount of physical activity, diet, stress, and any pre-existing disease.
Symptoms of back pain
Back pain occurs over time due to wear and tear of muscle with age, or it can happen at once because of some sudden movement that must have strained the muscles.
The most common symptom of back pain is stiffness and the occurrence of frequent pain in the back. One may suffer from constant pain in the lower back, which can be accompanied by a muscle spasm that further restricts the body’s movement. This pain in the lower back is dull and prolonged. One can experience stinging, sharp, and electric pain in the back that may radiate to the hip and legs. This kind of pain can be indicative of irritation of the sciatica nerve.
When to see a doctor?
Even though back pain is one of the most common ailments, it can be prevented by making a few healthy lifestyle decisions. But if one fails to avoid it, it can be cured at home, within weeks by regular exercise and proper diet. And surgeries are the rarest option chosen to treat back pain.
If the pain persists past two weeks and hinders your daily life activities, it is suggestive to see a doctor. You must visit a doctor if suffering from any one or all of the following:
If the pain doesn’t cure with rest
If the pain spreads to your hip and leg
If the one experiences unexplained weight loss
If the pain began after a fall or accident
If it triggers any bowel or bladder issues
Feeling weakness in legs and arms
Once you visit a doctor, he will run a few tests according to your symptoms and then suggest to you some treatment comprising of some exercises and medicines depending on your medical history.
Managing back pain at home
Back pain can be managed and treated at home if you are not diagnosed with severe symptoms. There are many home remedies that one should follow to improve back pain at home and the major of those include fundamental lifestyle changes and increased body movement. Bed rest is not a solution to back pain. Resting in back pain only makes the muscles and ligaments weak and lazy. Swift movement and activity should be maintained throughout the day.
A few tips that are suggested to manage pain at home are:
Taking for over counter medication to relieve pain like; ibuprofen and acetaminophen etc
Avoid sitting for a prolonged period in the same position
Apply heat or ice within 48 hours of pain; this will help in relieving spasms in the back
In case of inflammation, reduce the amount of physical activity for only the first few days
Avoid activities and chores that involve lifting heavy weights and twisting the back
Do not workout within days of when the pain began
After two weeks, one may slowly start working out; this facilitates better posture and weight loss, strengthens the core and back muscles that support your back, and improves balance. But avoid all kinds of exercises that have the potential to strain your back muscles.
Exercises for back pain
Exercising, in general, is very good for the back, but certainly, there are specific back exercises that help to prevent and reduce back pain.
Knee to chest
You can prevent back pain and strengthen your back with this exercise. It stretches the back and hips and relieves pressure from the spinal cord.
Lie on your back.
bring one leg towards your chest and hold the stretch for 10 seconds, using your hand.
Repeat on the other side. And do the exercise at least five times.
Lower back rotation
It increases the flexibility in the lumbar region and hip and provides greater flexibility and mobility to the spine.
Lie on your back and fold your knees with your feet flat on the ground.
Fix your shoulder to the ground, roll your knees to one side, and hold the position for 10 seconds. You can keep your hands on your chest.
Release after 10 seconds and then repeat on the opposite side.
Do this stretch at least 3-4 times
This pose helps in increasing the mobility of the spine. It helps in stretching the neck and the back. Increases the flow of spinal fluids.
Get on all fours, facing the floor.
Slowly arch your back towards the ceiling.
Now slowly bend your abdomen towards the floor, then return to normal position.
This exercise strengthens the glutes and the hamstrings. It also stabilizes the spine.
Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor, and arms on the side.
Now slowly raise your hip using your glutes and hamstrings.
Hold the position for 10 seconds and release to normal position
Repeat this 3- 5 times
This exercise reduces lower back pain, increases stability, and builds stronger core, hip, and back muscles.
Get on all your fours with your abdomen towards the floor, with your knees aligned with your hips and your palms right under your shoulders.
Now raise your left arm and right leg parallel to the floor. Always keep your core muscles engaged and gaze at the floor.
Hold your position for 10 seconds and repeat with your left leg and right arm.
Note: If you get any strain, pain, or discomfort while doing the exercises, stop immediately.
It is no hidden secret that yoga is a blessing to the human body, it helps us prevent any body ailment, and if we suffer from any, this could be the best way to recover and rebuild the body. It works and relaxes your body at the same time.
Yoga engages your body and mind while doing the poses and truly engages our whole body.
For back pain, fast and complex workout and heavy weightlifting may not be the best. Instead, exercises that are slow and measured would work better. Several yoga poses help to strengthen your back and core, which in turn stabilizes your spine.
Adho Mukha Svanasana
When performed correctly, these asanas have long-term health benefits that can change your lifestyle for good. This yoga is also helpful in relieving any tension, spasms, and other issues in the back.
It is ok to have a hurting back, and realize that every 8 in 10 persons suffer from the same, so thinking that you are alone in this can be a little biased for the rest. Back pain can be prevented and managed efficiently; it is just that one has to take the proper steps towards their health at the right time.