Each of us has an 80 per cent risk of having back pain at some point in time. The good news – there’s a lot that we can do to help ourselves and stay free of back troubles.In fact, most backaches can be prevented by bending and lifting correctly. Also by,
- Improving your postures
- Performing regular exercises and
- Losing any excess weight.
The key to recovery from any back injury is prompt diagnosis and treatment -Which may include pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory drugs like Ibuprofen, Aspirin, Paracetamol, etc.
We explain the most prevalent types of back pain, their causes and treatments, and how to avoid or minimise backache.
A slipped disc, also known as disk protrusion or prolapse, is one of the most painful back conditions and occurs more commonly in the lumbar spine.
Discs are the back’s shockabsorbers, which lie between the vertebrae and are made of a tough outer layer and an inner jelly like substance. When a disc is slipped, the jelly like inner layer protrudes through the outer layer, compressing the nerve roots that exit from the spinal canal at that point. Injury to the discs usually causes pain at one specific point and throughout the area supplied by the compressed nerve.
Several nerves comprise the sciatic nerve (the main one in the body & legs), and compression may cause muscle weakness, loss of sensation, numbness and tingling, often the pain runs down the back of legs. Its wise to see a orthopaedic surgeon promptly, for fast relief from symptoms. Initial treatment involves rest, then a prescribed exercise routine. If this fails to ease the pain, and there is still nerve root compression, an operation may be needed.
Areas of the back affected by Back Pain
Neck pain (cervical spine)
The neck area is the most vulnerable part of the back, and is prone to stiffness as a result of stress. Bad posture while sleeping can also cause neck pain.
Pain radiates from the neck out to the shoulders or arms and may be caused by muscle spasm or an injury. This requires diagnosis and treatment by an orthopaedic surgeon. Treatment depends on the severity of symptoms, but will include pain relieving and anti-inflammatory drugs, gentle execises. The use of a soft collar to immobilise the neck also helps in giving the damaged area time to heal.
Mid Back Pain (dorsal spine)
The middle of the back bears the brunt of postural faults, which can lead to disc wear and tear, and fairly common developmental faults that are caused by misalignment of the vertebrae or rotational abnormalities, called scoliosis and kyphosis.
Certain conditions, such as ankylosing spondylitis cause inflammation in internal organs and joints. The pain and stiffness associated with these conditions is also felt in the mid-back, and referral to a rheumatologist is essential. Treatment usually involves anti-inflammatory drugs.
Lower Back (lumbar spine)
This is often brought on by incorrect lifting/carrying or postural faults. Wearing high heeled footwear is also a contributory factor. These causes either individually or in conjunction with each other can sprain or overstretch the muscles and ligaments surrounding the spine to the point of tearing.Disc injury is more common in in the lumbar region.
Women are more vulnerable to the problems in the sacroiliac joint, where the base of the spine meets the top of the hipbone, particularly during pregnancy, when there is increase in the hormone relaxin.
The most effective remedies are good posture, physiotherapy, gentle excerise and taking care when lifting heavy articles.
Learn A Specific Exercise Regime
Systems such as yoga, or the Alexander Technique will help ease stress. These techniques will relax and gently exercise the tense muscles and assist in improving your posture.
Here are some tips on lowering your risk of straining your spine and the surrounding muscles – and how to ease the pain if you do succumb.
Don’t Work In The Fixed Position For Long Periods
Take a break atleast once an hour and try to vary your tasks throughout the day.
Don’t Use Badly Designed Office Equipment
A chair with a supportive back and at the right height for your desk is essential. Keep your head up, shoulders and neck as straight as possible. Sit well back in your chair, with your wrists relaxed and unbent, keep your knees bent at 90 degrees and level with your hips.
Avoid Prolonged Driving
Car seat design can be poor, so use a back support if necessary, and take regular breaks.
Dont Sleep With Your Head Raised
Only use one thin pillow and make sure your mattress is supportive.
Use Heat Treatment To Combat Pain
Have a warm shower or bath, or wrap a hot-water bottle in a towel and apply to the affected area.
Practise The Neutral Position
Several times a day, lie down with your head raised and your knees raised until the small of your back is flat on the floor.
Try Deep Massage
This relaxes tense muscles. The massage should be administered by qualified therapists.