Your back is the workhorse of your body. You rely on it in almost every move you make. So even though your back is a well-designed structure of bone, muscles, nerves, and other soft tissues, it is vulnerable to injury and back pain, either of which can be disabling.
Back pain is a common condition, occurring in four out of five adults. While back pain is most likely to occur at one time in your life, there are steps you can take to prevent it from happening to you or keep the pain from becoming worse.
Most back pain occurs in the lower back, where most of your body weight is supported. It is often a result of strained back muscles and ligaments due to any of the following activities:
- Improper posture
- Heavy lifting
- Sudden awkward movement
- Muscle spasm
In some cases, however, back pain can be traced back to specific conditions, such as:
- Herniated Disk – When the disk material presses on a nerve.
- Sciatica – When a herniated disk presses on the sciatic nerve. The condition causes sharp, shooting pain through the buttocks and the back of the leg.
- Spinal Stenosis – When the space around the spinal cord and nerve roots becomes narrow. Caused by arthritis and bone overgrowth. Pain results when a nerve gets pinched in the narrow space.
- Spondylosis – A type of arthritis affecting the spine due to degenerative changes brought on by aging.
- Spondylolisthesis – When one vertebra in the spinal column slips forward over another.
Since back pain in any of these instances is premised on a definable cause, the treatment procedure is also easily identified. Back pain may also be caused by other specific conditions, not mentioned here because they occur only rarely.
Home treatment and self-care are often the best method to take care of back pain. However, there are rare instances where back pain could signal a more serious medical problem, in which case, medical advice is needed.
Take heed of the following symptoms of back pain:
- Constant or intense back pain, especially when lying down at night
- Back pain spreads down one or both legs
- Weakness, numbness, or tingling in one or both legs
- New bowel or bladder problems
- Abdominal pain or pulsation, fever
- Follows a fall, blow to your back or other injury
- Accompanied by unexplained weight loss
If you experience any of the above, then be sure to see your doctor immediately. Additionally, if you are older than 50, seek doctor’s advice about your back pain even when you do not experience any of the abovementioned symptoms. People with a history of osteoporosis, cancer, steroid use, or drug or alcohol abuse should also see the doctor if they experience back pain.