Back pain is a symptom of discomfort felt in the back which may relate to an underlying condition or a result of direct trauma. It is due to damage to a structure in or around the spine but can cause pain in other parts of the body depending on any nerves affected.
The spine is a combination of strong bones, flexible tendons and ligaments and large muscles. It is made to be strong and protect sensitive nerves in the body whilst still being flexible enough to provide mobility in different planes. As there are so many intricate structures within the spine any slight change can cause discomfort or pain, it can be concentrated in one area or radiate.
The spine is made up of 33 interlinked bones that are stacked on top of each other and are divided into five different regions:
- Cervical spine (C1 – C7), This is the top region of the spine and runs from the stem of the brain to the base of your neck.
- Thoracic spine (T1 – T12) This region follows the cervical spine and from the base of your neck to the middle of your back.
- Lumbar spine (L1 – L5) The strongest vertebrae from middle of the back towards the base of the back.
- Sacrum, five fused vertebrae found in the lower back.
- Coccyx, Four vertebrae which are fused at the base of the spine.
Each vertebrae is a bone made up of a vertebral body and pedicles which arise from the side and form joints with the following vertebra. Between these vertebra lies an intervertebral disc which acts as a cushion between these bones.
When getting to the source of pain its important to isolate the structures which cause the problems which is usually one of the following:
Each of the above structures have different functions and may present different types of pain however pain symptoms may come from more than one of those structures due to their close proximity. When pain begins to present within the back, often people compensate by holding themself differently and walking in an altered fashion. By compensating this can alter the overall posture which may in turn lead to further problems developing.
The most common causes of back pain is usually due to tension in the muscles, strained muscle or ligaments, damaged discs or injuries from a fall. This usually occurs when a heavy object is lifted incorrectly or a sudden awkward movement is made. It is much more common for people to work on computers or laptops and sitting for longer periods of time, which is a major cause of back pain due to poor posture. The neck is usually put under strain to look down at laptops and slouching is due to sitting for long periods of time.
Structural problems can result in back pain, some of which are as follows:
- Sciatica, which is a nerve pain that travels through the glutes and down the back of the leg caused by a disc pressing onto a nerve.
- Arthritis, one of the most common causes of back pain and can affect any joint within the spine, making movements painful and stiff.
- An abnormal curvature of the spine, most common is scoliosis which is an s shaped curve in the spine along with spinal rotation.
There are factors that may mean you are at a higher risk of developing any kind of back pain, such as work, age, weight, lifestyle and any medical conditions. Changing some lifestyle factors can therefore ease any chance of developing complications in the future. Regular exercise of core strengthening and flexibility training will aid more mobility in the spine and strengthen the muscles that protect the spine and surrounding joints. Maintain a healthy diet for bone health and body weight. Improving posture in both standing and seated positions. Ensuring you have a neutral pelvic position with your head forward and straight. When standing body weight should be distributed evenly on both feet whereas in a seated position there should be support in your lower back with your feet flat.
To have your back pain assessed by a professional. Call the Dorsi Spinal Institute or CLICK HERE to book.
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