Back pain is one of the leading causes of disability worldwide. It is also one of the prevalent reasons people miss work or visit their doctors. Most people will experience and will seek back pain treatment at one point in their life or another.
The good thing is there are several measures that can help prevent or relieve back pain. In the event that prevention fails, it is reassuring to know that treatment options like low level laser therapy can alleviate the pain and heal the back within a few short weeks. While an option for some, surgery is often not resorted to when treating back pain.
Some of the most prevalent signs and symptoms of back pain include:
- Stabbing or shooting pain
- Pain that will radiate down the leg
- Muscle ache
- Pain that worsens when standing, bending, lifting, or walking
- Pain that will improve when reclining
While mild back pain will respond very well to self-care and home treatment, others might need the intervention of a doctor. In very rare instances, back pain can be a symptom of a serious medical condition.
As a general rule of thumb, it is recommended that you seek immediate medical attention when your back pain is:
- Accompanied by bladder or bowel problems
- Accompanied by fever
- Severely painful and does not improve with rest
- Causes numbness, tingling, and weakness in one or both legs
- Accompanied by drastic and unexplained weight loss
Acute back pain can occur suddenly but often will not last more than six weeks. This type of back pain is often the cause of falling or heavy lifting. Back pain that lasts for more than 3 months is called chronic back pain.
Some of the conditions linked to back pain include:
- Osteoarthritis can sometimes affect the lower back. In some instances, arthritis in the spine can cause the space around the spinal cord to narrow down. This condition is called spinal stenosis.
- Ligament or muscle strain. Sudden awkward movements or repeated heavy lifting can sometimes result in straining of the spinal ligaments and the back muscles. For those who have poor physical condition, constant back strain may result in painful muscle spasms.
- Ruptured or bulging disks. Disks function as cushion between the vertebrae (bones) in the spine. The soft material that’s inside the disk can rupture and bulge and press on a nerve as a result.
- When the bones become brittle and porous, there is a tendency for the vertebrae of the spine to develop compression fractures.
- Skeletal irregularities. Scoliosis, a condition where the spine curves to the side can also result in back pain.
Anyone can experience back pain. In fact, even teens and children are not excluded. Below are some of the factors that puts someone in a much greater risk of developing back pain:
- Excess weight. Carrying excess weight can put extra stress on the back.
- Lack of exercise. Unused and weak muscles in the abdomen and back may lead to back pain.
- Back pain can become more common as one gets older (often starts when someone is around 30 to 40 years of age).
- Improper lifting. Using the back rather than the legs may sometimes result in back pain.
- Smoking minimises the blood flow to the lower spine. This can hinder the body from delivering the right amount of nutrients to the disks in the back. In addition, smoking can also slow down healing.
- Certain types of cancer and arthritis can sometimes contribute to back pain.
- Psychological conditions. People prone to anxiety and depression are believed to be at a greater risk of developing back pain.