What is back pain?
Back pain is amongst the most common causes of worry in adults as well as teenagers. It can be uncomfortable and hamper daily activities. It can result from sitting long hours, bad posture, lifting heavy weights without precaution or injury. Also, age is an important factor. Back pain sets in with age due to weakening of the back or degenerative disks. Back pain can itself be a problem or a symptom of some other ailment. Identifying the cause of the pain is the key to treating it.
What causes back pain?
The causes of back pain are many. The back is made up of tendons, ligaments, muscles and bones. They work together to support our body and help us move around. An issue with any of these can result in back pain. The most common causes of back pain that have been recognized by experts are-
The strain on the back or any of its component can be a result of lifting a heavy load without precaution or making an abrupt or an awkward movement. It can be due to-
- Stretched muscles or strained ligaments.
- Muscle spasm or tension
- Injured or degenerated disks
Ruptured or bulging disks.
Our spine is made of interlocked vertebrae with disks, which are areas of tissue acting as cushions. These disks can swell, injure or herniate and even rupture with age, or injury. This can compress the surrounding nerves and cause back pain.
This is caused by a herniated disk or bulging disk pressing on. The lower back pain can be accompanied by a sharp pain that travels through the buttock down the back of the leg.
Osteoarthritis is a primary reason for pain in the lower back in the elderly
Abnormal spine curvature
An abnormal curvature of the spine can often cause back pain. It can be a result of sitting stooped for a long time and incorrect posture, among other reasons.
The vertebrae of the spine deteriorate with age. This leads to osteoporosis. This is one of the causes of back pain.
Kidney stones or an infection can also result in back pain.
Posture and sudden movements
A poor posture or sudden abrupt movements like twisting, coughing, sneezing, and over-stretching can often result in back pain. Additionally, bending awkwardly, carrying something improperly, straining the neck forward, sitting in the same position without support for a long time, and sleeping in an improper manner can also be a cause for your back pain.
There are other rare causes for back pain which can only be diagnosed by your doctor. Some of the likely culprits are-
- Degenerative spondylolisthesis, in which one vertebra gets displaced onto the other
- Cauda equine syndrome, which is caused when the nerves at the bottom of the spinal cord lose nerve function.
- Infection of the spine can cause back pain along with fever. In rare cases, it might be a tumor that is pressing against your spinal nerves, causing back pain.
- Other infections like pelvic diseases, bladder and kidney infections can also cause back pain.
- People with sleep disorders can also suffer from back pain.
Symptoms of back pain:
Back pain symptoms can range from mild to severe.
- The main symptom is a dull aching sensation in the lower back, which can at times go down to buttocks.
- A stabbing or shooting pain that radiates down the leg from your buttocks.
- Inability to stand up straight
- Decreased and painful movement and diminished ability to move the back.
If strained or a pulled muscle is the cause, the pain is short-lived and goes away on its own. The discomfort can be further eased by using topical over the counter creams like Moov.
However, when the symptoms do not subside over time, it is advised to see a doctor.
The symptoms are severe when back pain is accompanied by the following symptoms
- Weight loss
- Swelling on the back
- Pain that goes beyond the knees
- Pain when urinating
- Loss of control over bowel movements
- Numbness around genitals or buttocks
Back pain treatment:
Back pain can be treated after identifying the cause.
If the back pain is mild, it can be resolved using medications like anti-inflammatory drugs, pain killers and over the counter topical creams and sprays. You can also use a hot or a cold compress on the affected area to reduce the pain. Take adequate rest. However, careful movement can also help ease stiffness and free the muscles.
If your back pain does not subside, you need to see a doctor. After a complete diagnosis, your doctor may recommend medication or physiotherapy or both.
Your doctor may prescribe Codeine or hydrocodone, which are narcotics, for a short while. In some cases, you might be advised to take a muscle relaxant or an antidepressant like Amitriptyline.
Applying a hot or cold compress, or other muscle release techniques might help relieve the pain. The physiotherapist can then introduce some strength and flexibility exercises for your back. You might be advised to continue the exercises even after the pain has subsided.
- If the cause of your back pain is originating in the spinal area, you might be given cortisone injections in the epidermal tissue around the spinal cord. It is an anti-inflammatory drug, which numbs the painful area.
- Botox injections are used in some cases. They reduce pain by paralyzing the sprained muscles.
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or CBT can be of help in some cases by encouraging a new pattern of thinking. It helps you relax along with motivating you to maintain a positive attitude.
How to prevent back pain?
You can prevent back pain by following these simple tips.
Carry less weight.
Most of the time, the culprit for your back pain is your bag or your briefcase. We tend to carry heavy briefcases throughout the day. This strains our neck and spine and can cause back pain. A way around is to carry backpacks and adjust the straps so the weight is adequately distributed or use a back with wheels which can keep the weight off your back entirely.
Maintain proper posture
Slumping when sitting on the chair or stooping can strain your spine and neck and result in back pain. Maintain a rigid and proper posture when standing or sitting. Maintaining your posture comes with practice. Try to consciously correct your posture whenever you find yourself stooping or slumping.
Strengthen your core
The muscles in the abdomen and the back are the ones that are responsible for keeping you upright as well as assisting you in day-to-day tasks. Working out these muscles lessens the chances of straining and damaging your back. Fit strength training exercises which focus at your core into your schedule at least twice a week.
Wear proper shoes
Wearing the correct size and comfortable shoes is very important. Wearing high heels for a long time can also cause back pain. Thus, you should purchase comfortable shoes with less height that fit you.
Stretch from time to time
Your daily routine can stiffen your muscles and leave you more susceptible to strain. Getting up and stretching those muscles helps improve circulation and relaxes them and lowers the risk of lower back pain.
The secret to Effective Back Pain Relief:
Moov STRONG which contains Diclofenac, the No. 1 doctor recommended active ingredient for acute pain relief helps you get rid of pain quickly. It contains 3 active ingredients – Diclofenac Diethylamine, Methyl salicylate & Menthol topical gel that work wonders to give your muscles relief from pain.