Before knowing about back pain, here is brief anatomy of a human back (spinal cord and related muscles). Human back compromises of 33 vertebrae, beginning from neck to lower back, 5 discs, and a complex network of muscles to support them, which facilitate the movements of the back. Ribs cage is attached to the upper-middle portion of the backbone and towards the lower end is the hip joint and in between, there is a cavity consisting of several body organs like kidney, stomach liver, etc. All vertebrae all piled upon each other, like a stack of coins, piled upon each other, however, the vertebrae are hollow from in between, and in that cavity lies the spinal cord that origins from the brain, through the neck, and tending towards the lower back.
With such a complex structure of the back, there’s always a chance that some complications might occur if proper care is not taken. Though there is no such definition of back pain, however, a sensation of pain, due to any complexity or abnormality in the back is termed as back pain.
Mostly it is believed that back pain is more frequent in older ages, however, a report by QI Spine Clinic on 20,000 individuals in 2017 revealed that 20% of individuals facing back problems are of age from 16 to 34. The most affected age group is of 36 to 54 years of age. The study also revealed that 45% of the population neglect pain for the initial 7 weeks, which might lead to complications later on. Another article in eMedicineHealth revealed that 80% of the individuals suffer back pain at some point in time, and even after thorough research in the sample population, in 85% percent of cases, no one single specific reason the same was observed. So, it is often advised to take good care of the backbone and muscles via regular exercise and routine body checkups.
Common Causes of Back Pain:
Here are some of the possible causes of back pain:
Strain: It causes swelling in muscles and tissues that results in pain. Generally caused by strained muscles or ligaments or maybe a result of some injuries occurred due to an accident earlier.
Structural problems: As each vertebra in the spine is cushioned by disks, so any kind of rupturing and bulging in disc creates pressure on the nerve resulting in back pain.
Degenerative disc disease: The discs, or “shock absorbers” between the spine’s vertebrae get shrink after again. It causes spaces between disc & narrow that causes rubbing of bones which then causes excess pressure on the spine, which results in back pain. Mostly this problem tends to rise with increasing age.
Skeletal irregularities: This is a medical condition in which the spine gets curvatures more than normal and curves somehow turn inward or misalignment happens in it, this usually cause pain after middle age among peoples. Obesity is one of the major causes of this situation.
Wrong movement and postures: Sometimes wrong postures during exercise, weight lifting, pulling, or pushing something in the wrong way, overstretching our body or sudden jerk makes us uncomfortable for the day.
Remaining sedentary: A sedentary lifestyle is a risk factor of lower back pain. Sitting in the same position for a long time also affects our back as sitting in front of computers while working or driving for a long time results in back pain.
Spinal stenosis: In this medical condition, the spinal canal gets narrowed adding, etc pressure on spines and nerves, it also makes leg and shoulder feel numb. It reduces space for nerves. It generally happens after 60 years of age.
Poor sleep: Apart from sleeping postures, there’s also the importance of mattress on which we are sleeping. Sleeping on the wrong mattress that is not comfortable for the spine results in back pain.
Stress: Stress is one of the causes of back pain, the connection between stress and back pain is when stress manifests physically, it causes muscle tightening around shoulder and spine, thereby resulting in back pain.
Vitamin D deficiency: It’s related to musculoskeletal function in our body and its deficiency can cause several problems in our body that causes pain in muscles and lower back pain is one of them.
Some medical conditions: Cancer of spine, infection in the spine are some issues related to back pain also “shingles” a medical condition in which nerves get affected with blisters on the skin that results in back pain in the lumbar spine.
Risk factors: There are some risk factors such as smoking, occupational activities related to such postures, genetic factors in some, excessive weight, pregnancy, etc. are some reasons that are also responsible for back pain.
Avoid sitting in the same position for a longer duration:
Staying in the same posture for a prolonged period is one of the major causes of back pain. Avoid sitting in the same position for a long duration as it stresses our spinal disc & causes pain in our back. It is idle to take a few minutes break & take a short walk after every hour of continuous sitting in order to reduce stress on the spinal disc.
Exercises play a vital role in strengthening our muscles. Incorporating activities like walking, running, exercising, swimming, jogging, yoga, etc. in our daily routine will help us in improving blood circulation, muscle & joint health & increases the flexibility of spinal bones, thereby reduces back pain.
A healthy diet is key to a healthy life. Thus it is very important for each one of us to inculcate the habit of a healthy diet in our daily life. A healthy diet strengthens our body & boost up our immunity system, which helps us recover from all sorts of injuries & pain.
We should increase our daily intake of calcium, vitamins & fibers, as they provide much-needed power to our muscles & help them grow stronger. And we can do so by adding milk, fruits, fish, eggs, meat, beans, nuts, green vegetables, etc. to our diet.
Drink more water:
Not drinking enough water can also be the cause of muscle pain as water is considered as muscle fuel & not having it enough leads to an imbalance of the electrolytes & minerals that hampers the functioning of muscles & nerves that leads to pain & injuries. In order to avoid such conditions, one must drink at least 11 to 12 cups of water daily & provide our muscles their much-needed fuel to stay healthy & fit.
Maintain good body posture:
These days most of us use mobile phones & laptops a lot, which might lead to bending of our neck for longer hours which could reflect in stiffness in the neck. Also while doing basic day to day activities like lifting up a bucket or a bag or some other weights, you can bend your knees while doing so, as most of us do it by virtue of bent back, rather than knees, doing so will distribute the workload over knees & back equally, leading to better postures, as a strain or sprain in the back could reflect in back or neck pain.
Maintain good posture while sleeping & use good quality mattress:
Poor posture strains out our muscles which leads to pain around the neck & back area. Our body heals when we sleep & if our muscles are not at ease then how will they heal. Thus, good sleeping posture is very essential to avoid pain around the neck & back area. Also, the right mattress provides support to our spine when we are asleep. Therefore, it is important to use a good quality of mattress for a good night’s sleep & to avoid back pain.
When to See a Doctor?
So, in many instances, back pain tends to get okay with some remedies. In some cases, even if you lift a heavyweight, it may lead to a stiff back, but with proper rest and sleep, these things get okay. But in some cases, you might need to consult a doctor, such as when:
- Sometimes there is a continuous stiffness, continuing for days or weeks and might get coupled up with pain in some days later, there is a chance that there might be some abnormality in a muscle or any part of the backbone and therefore you must consult a doctor.
- Sometimes, in diseases like sciatica, the beginning symptom is just a mild pain in the lower region of the back, however, after some time the back pain extends to the buttock and upper regions of the legs, which can prove to be an unpleasant experience, and you might want to avoid it, so visit a doctor, as soon as you start to feel that things aren’t getting any better.
- Sometimes, it might also happen, that on a day you wake up and you might feel stiffness in the back out of nowhere, and usually, such kind of pain might disappear automatically, however, if the pain is happening on a regular interval basis, and is expanding in terms of area and intensity, then now is the right time for you to make a visit to a doctor.
- It is not necessary that you should consult a doctor only when you feel some problem, regular checkups by a qualified physician might help you to avoid any problems that might occur in the future.