Back pain, also known as backache, the pain is felt in the back. It is the most common cause of chronic pain, and is a major contributor of missed work and disability. For most individuals, back pain is self-limiting. Let’s take a look at of back pain and its causes and diseases.

Structure

The spine, which is also called the backbone or spinal column, is one of the strongest parts of the body and gives us a great deal of flexibility and strength.

The central feature of the human back is the vertebral column, specifically the length from the top of the thoracic vertebrae to the bottom of the lumbar vertebrae, which houses the spinal cord in its spinal canal, and which generally has some curvature that gives shape to the back.

The spinal cord connects to the brain through the base of the skull and to the rest of the body by nerves that pass-through spaces between the bones of the spine. These nerves are also known as nerve roots.

The back is made up of 33 bones, known as vertebrae, one sitting on top of the other. These bones have discs in between and lots of strong ligaments and muscles around them for support. There are also the bones in the tailbone at the bottom of the back, which are fused together and have no discs in between.

On either side of the spine, running from top to bottom, are many small joints called the facet joints. The spinal cord passes inside the vertebrae, which protect it.

As you grow older, the structures of your spine, such as the joints, discs and ligaments, age as well. The structures remain strong but it’s usual for your back to get stiffer as you get older.

Back pain is classified in terms of duration of symptoms.

  • Acute back pain lasts <6 weeks
  • Subacute back pain lasts between 6 and 12 weeks.
  • Chronic back pain lasts for greater than 12 weeks.
  • This pain can stem from arthritis or inflammation, a prior spine injury or even a disc disorder.

Symptoms

  • A dull aching sensation in the lower back, burning, or sharp pain in your back. The pain can be confined to a single spot or cover a large area
  • A stabbing or shooting pain that can radiate from your low back to your buttocks, down the back of your thigh, and into your calf and toes
  • Leg numbness or tingling above or below your knee
  • Stiffness or achiness that occurs anywhere along your spine (from your neck to your tailbone)
  • An inability to stand up straight without pain. Consistent ache in the middle or lower part of your back, especially after standing or sitting for an extended period
  • A decreased range of motion and diminished ability to flex the back

Symptoms that can indicate a more serious medical problem are

  • Loss of bowel or bladder control
  • Numbness, tingling, or weakness in one or both legs
  • Onset following trauma, such as a fall or a blow to the back
  • Intense, constant pain that gets worse at night
  • Presence of unexplained weight loss
  • Pain associated with a throbbing sensation in the abdomen
  • Presence of fever

The symptoms of back pain, if due to strain or misuse, are usually short-lived but can last for days or weeks. Back pain is chronic when symptoms have been present for longer than three months.

When to see a doctor

Most back pain gradually improves with home treatment and self-care, usually within a few weeks. If yours doesn’t improve in that time, see your doctor.

In rare cases, back pain can signal a serious medical problem. Seek immediate care if your back pain:

  • Causes new bowel or bladder problems
  • Is accompanied by fever
  • Follows a fall, blow to your back or other injury. If it Is severe and doesn’t improve with rest
  • Spreads down one or both legs, especially if the pain extends below the knee
  • Causes weakness, numbness or tingling in one or both legs
  • Is accompanied by unexplained weight loss

Also, see your doctor if you start having back pain for the first time after age 50, or if you have a history of cancer, osteoporosis, steroid use, or excessive drug or alcohol use.

Causes

Back pain that comes on suddenly and lasts no more than six weeks (acute) can be caused by a fall or heavy lifting. Back pain that lasts more than three months (chronic) is less common than acute pain.

Muscle or ligament strain

Repeated heavy lifting or a sudden awkward movement can strain back muscles and spinal ligaments. If you’re in poor physical condition, constant strain on your back can cause painful muscle spasms.

Spondylolysis

Spondylolysis refers to a stress fracture in one of the vertebrae of the spine. This condition is most common in children and adolescent who play sports, such as gymnastics or football, that place repeated stress on the lower back. If a stress fracture weakens the vertebrae too much, the vertebra becomes unstable and begins to “slip”—this condition is called spondylolisthesis.

Arthritis

Osteoarthritis can affect the lower back. In some cases, arthritis in the spine can lead to a narrowing of the space around the spinal cord, a condition called spinal stenosis.

Bulging or ruptured disks

Disks act as cushions between the bones (vertebrae) in your spine. The soft material inside a disk can bulge or rupture and press on a nerve. However, you can have a bulging or ruptured disk without back pain. Disk disease is often found incidentally when you have spine X-rays for some other reason.

Skeletal irregularities

A condition in which your spine curves to the side (scoliosis) also can lead to back pain, but generally not until middle age.

Spine Osteoporosis

Your spine’s vertebrae can develop compression fractures if your bones become porous and brittle.

Sciatica

refers to compression or pinching of the sciatic nerve, often caused by a herniated disc or bone spur. An injury or trauma to the pelvis, buttocks, or thigh, diabetes, prolonged sitting Because your sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the body (running from the base of the spine down both legs), compression of it may lead to lower back pain spreading till your feet. In addition to burning and/or cramping pain, patients may experience tingling, numbness, and muscle weakness.

Spinal stenosis

causes back pain in the aging population. A traumatic injury, like from a car accident, may also lead to spinal stenosis (due to the sudden swelling and inflammation within the spinal canal).

On other hand as you get older, the spinal canal gradually becomes constricted or narrowed, due in part to osteoarthritis and the thickening of tissues in your spine. If the spinal canal becomes too tight, nerve roots may become compressed, causing neurological symptoms.

Diseases

  • Less commonly, back pain is due to a whole-body (systemic) illness. Diseases due to rare causes of back pain include:
  • Osteoporosis – often linked to thinning of the bones and fracture.
  • An infection
  • Tumour or cancer
  • Ankylosing spondylitis
  • Cauda Equina Syndrome
  • Spina bifida

Remember, if you’re ever struggling with a pain for a long, don’t suffer in silence, find the best doctor to your nearest location. And talk to a healthcare professional today!


Filter By Topic
  • Introduction

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.