Are you ignoring your back pain? Don't…! It can get very severe…..!!! Back pain one of the most common yet most ignored conditions. Even though back pain can affect people of any age, it is significantly more common among adults aged between 25 and 55 years. Back pain is generally associated with the way our bones, muscles and ligaments in our back work and connect together.
Physiotherapy plays a very crucial role in dealing with back pain. Unfortunately, people keep ignoring their pain and when they come for physiotherapy it is already worst.
I have many patients coming to my clinic who just apply balms or eat painkillers to reduce the pain. Yes, it does help but it's temporary. Pain occurs due to some changes in your spine and muscles. Long term ignoring will lead to severe consequences just as if a rope is rubbed repeatedly on any surface it leads to tear. Similarly ignoring your pain and repeating incorrect activities can cause irreversible damage to your spine and muscles.
In this article, I am going to cover about low back pain causes, symptoms and do's and don'ts to prevent it.
Back pain can be present in any part of the spine such as the upper back, middle back and lower back. Upper and lower back are the commonest. They occur mostly due to overuse or acute trauma. Also caused by added pressure to the nerve which may cause several associated symptoms.
Whereas middle back pain is caused by joint dysfunction when the joints surrounding the spine and ribs do not function properly may occur due to poor posture, obesity, ageing, fall or injury, fractures etc.
There several reasons which cause pain in the low back. Few are listed below. 1) The commonest is due to incorrect or poor posture. Prolonged poor positioning results in a build-up of pressure on the tissues. Poor Posture is in form of Slouching, rounded shoulders, hunchback, tilting the head forward, bent knees. This is most common in people who have a sedentary lifestyle and sit for longer hours. It is further triggered by increasing occupational demands, lack of fitness and poorly designed work stations.
2) As we all know one wrong thing leads to other. Thus, poor posture leads to other consequences which further cause back pain such as back muscle strains. Lifting something heavy, bending, turning, twisting etc in awkward postures leads to small tears in soft tissues surrounding back region resulting in severe spasm/pain in the back. 3) Disc injuries or Sciatica: The degenerative changes leads to increase load over ligaments, muscles and the vertebrae themselves leading to disc prolapsed or slipped disc.
The term 'slipped disc' suggests that a disc has moved out of position, but this is not accurate. This prolapsed disc compresses the nerves coming from the spinal cord. This causes pain in the back with associated symptoms such as tingling, numbness or heaviness in hands and legs.
When the sciatic nerve compresses the disc between lumber vertebra it causes tingling or numbness in the back of leg. This called sciatica. Disc herniation( disc prolapse more than 70%) is also one of the conditions which cause chronic back pain which needs surgery.
4) The other causes of the back include Osteoporosis(weak and brittle bones), cancer and infection of the spine.
Smoking, lack of sleep (less than 6-7 hours) and bad mattress (very soft) are also causative factors for back pain. Back pain with severity can cause several associated symptoms. Such as Burning, tingling and heaviness in hands and feet. Also Muscle spasm and tightness in low back, pelvis and hips.
The pain can be alleviated immediately with the following measures.
Cold with Ice pack initially for 48-72 hours. If an Ice pack is not available then ice cubes wrapped in a towel or ice bottle can also be used.
Analgesics (Pain killers) and anti-inflammatory medicines.
Sitting and sleeping in the correct posture with the well-supported spine with pillows. (Rest)
Stretching of muscles of back and legs.
Strengthening your core muscles under the guidance of a Physiotherapist.
Do's and don'ts for back pain
Sit in the correct posture with back support.
Sleep sideways with pillows
Sit for a short duration
Have ergonomic Work station
Lift with objects closer to you
Wear comfortable shoes
Bend with knees bend
Strengthen your core
Sleep on your stomach
Sit continues for hours
Have an Improper work station
Lift heavy objects
Wear high heels
Forward bend from the spine
Don't smoke, eat junk
In the next article, I will cover the Physiotherapy exercises to manage Low back pain.
Author: Dr. Swati Sangolkar Tayde is a Consultant Physiotherapist based in Mumbai