India’s very common health problems is backache. A backache can originate in any part of the vertebrae – from the upper part of the spinal cord to the lower part. Pain originating in a different portion of the back can be caused due to a varied number of reasons. There is no single cause of a backache. The most common causes of back pain could be excessive stress, lack of bodily activity, sitting for long hours, lack of exercise, back injury or some underlying medical condition.
What does Backache Mean?
A backache means any pain that originates in any part of the spinal cord and could last for weeks or months. This pain could be a constant dull pain, chronic backache or could be sudden sharp spasm which lasts for days. Treatment of such pain depends upon the severity and the length of the pain. People with such back condition are often referred to spine specialists, osteopaths or chiropractors.
Major Causes of Backache
The urban lifestyle, stress, and lack of time for self-are the major factors to be blamed for the occurrence of back pain in the Indian population. Some of the major causes to be found are:
- Most commonly found reason behind back pain is injured ligaments and muscles of the back. This could occur due to lifting of excessive heavyweight inappropriately, sitting for long hours in improper posture or sudden inept movements of the body. Apart from these reasons, excessive physical work or any heavy sports can also cause a similar back problem. These reasons lead to strained muscles and strained ligaments which in turn cause stiffness and soreness of back.
- Any underlying back injury at some point of life could also cause a severe back problem.
- Disk Injury which leads to herniated, bulging or ruptured disc can cause severe back pain. This could cause a chronic and serious backache and may attract long-time treatment.
- Pre-existing abnormalities of the spinal cord may also cause a severe back problem. Problems like scoliosis and arthritis can be the result of such health
- Degeneration of bone density, which is commonly called osteoporosis, also leads to a severe and chronic back problem.
- Displacement of vertebral structure could cause serious backache problem called spondylolisthesis.
- Besides, some other serious conditions like a bacterial or fungal infection of the spine, malignant or nonmalignant tumours, and tuberculosis of the spine could cause the extreme and critical back condition.
- Any severe kidney condition can also cause back pain.
What Are the Common Symptoms of Backache?
In most of the cases, back pain can be identified by considering some of the usual symptoms in your body. These symptoms may not require immediate medical attention and can be controlled if taken rest. Some of the usual symptoms of a backache are:
- It is usually characterized by a regular dull pain or a sense of pain in the back.
- Sometimes, it comes with instant shooting pain. This type of pain can arise due to some awkward movement of muscles. In this condition, you may also feel the pain moving downwards to the leg and foot.
- Back pain often triggers while trying to stand straight.
- It may reduce the flexibility of the muscles and ligaments.
- You may find it difficult to sleep straight on your back, sit straight or even walk without a stabbing sensation in the back.
Most of the time, such pain occurs due to muscle spasm, long working hours, excessive stress or inappropriate movement of the body. This type of pain usually goes away in a week or two. You just need to take complete bed rest for a few days. Light exercise and walking could speed up the healing process.
Backache Symptoms which Need Medical Attention
However, not all back pain symptoms can be treated in the same manner. Backache symptoms which stay longer than a month may need immediate medical attention. Any kind of back pain which does not get better on its own within a week or two can indicate some severe underlying health condition and should not be avoided. Symptoms that are listed below may point to a more critical back problem:
- Pain in the back accompanied with high fever may need immediate treatment and can signify the severity of health condition.
- Those who experience regular pain in the back which gets worse in the night should also consult a doctor or visit a hospital like PSRI Hospital. This may indicate a sterner problem.
- If a backache comes along with aching sensation in the lower abdomen, one must rush to the doctor.
- If you notice constant weight loss along with continuous back pain, you should consult a doctor.
- If the onset of a backache causes lack of control over your bowel movement or bladder, it should be notified to the doctor immediately.
- In case you experience a tingling sensation in your lower limbs or sense of numbness in your legs, you must inform your doctor at the earliest. This may indicate a grave health condition.
Who is Prone to Back Pain?
Your lifestyle, job, and stress are some of the decisive factors which make you prone to back pain. Below are the individuals who are more prone to backache problems:
- Individuals who do not get enough rest and sleep are more susceptible to backache problems.
- Individuals who are above the age of 50 are more inclined to back problems. It could be due to degeneration of bones or other health problems.
- People who have to sit for long hours due to their profession are more likely to suffer from back pain.
- People who work under high stress can acquire a serious back problem over time.
- Individuals who are overweight or obese can have back pain problem.
- Those who smoke may acquire a severe backache.
It has been noticed that people who have to work under stress and are unhappy are more likely to get a backache.
How is Backache Detected?
Usually, physical screening is done by the doctor to identify the severity and intensity of the back pain. In the initial physical examination, the doctor checks the individual’s reflexes, the capacity of physical movement like walking and length of standing, the flexibility of the spine, any sense of pain or tingling in the lower limbs, etc. This initial physical screening helps the doctor to decide the seriousness of the pain. At this stage, your physician will decide whether or not you need further medical tests. In case, any serious back problem is detected, the doctor may prescribe further medical tests such as:
- The doctor may prescribe thorough medical tests to find out if there are any pre-existing health conditions which in turn causing back pain.
- X-ray of the spinal cord can be prescribed by the doctor to check the alignment of the spine bones and also if there is any fracture.
- The doctor may also prescribe CT scan and MRI to make a thorough screening of the muscles, joints, ligaments, discs, etc. of your back if major damage is detected.
- The doctor may also ask for EMG or bone scan to observe the conduction of nerves and abnormality of any bone tissue.
Depending upon the severity of the pain doctors may suggest for certain medications, therapies or exercises. Following are some of the commonly used medical treatments for relieving backache:
- In most cases, back pain caused due to muscle spasm or strained ligaments is treated with pain-relieving medications like Ibuprofen or Naproxen. These medicines are anti-inflammatory and non-steroidal medicines which provide quick relief from the overwhelming pain.
- Sometimes, analgesics, like acetaminophen, can also be used as a painkiller.
- However, these pain-relieving drugs can cause irritation and discomfort in the stomach. These medicines are, thus, taken along with a meal. Moreover, individuals who have ulcers and kidney problems should not take these medicines without consulting doctors. Improper use of painkillers can cause a negative effect on the body.
- Apart from painkillers, injections are also used to relieve excessive pain. Individuals who are suffering from severe ache, cannot sit, lie, stand or walk properly, are prescribed to take injections to provide immediate relief from the pain.
- Considering the magnitude of backache and seriousness of the condition doctor may also refer to some specialists such as chiropractor or osteopath for better diagnosis of the cause of the pain and its treatment.
- Physiotherapy or bioelectric therapy can be prescribed.
- However, the best and most effective long-term solution to such backaches is back rehabilitation exercise or yoga. Doctors and spine specialists often suggest certain yoga poses and freehand exercises to bring back the correct alignment of the spinal cord.
The purpose of these exercises is to restore the strength, shape and adequate flow of blood to the back. Considering the condition of your backache, the doctor may prescribe complete back rest and regular back rehabilitation free-hand exercises. Remember, these yoga poses or exercises are not meant for trimming your body weight and shape. These are exclusively meant for rehabilitating your spinal cord and strengthening your back muscles, ligaments, discs, and joints. The rehab exercise increases the flow of blood to the back, thus, providing the required amount of nutrition to the muscles and discs of the back.
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