Back pain is a physical discomfort that occurs in the spin or back area which may be mild or severe. To avoid movements that may twist or cause strain to the back it’s important for one to:
- Stand smart- ensuring your body is in a good posture that reduces stress on the back muscles.
- Lift smart- avoid lifting too heavy objects and if it’s a must seek a lifting partner.
- Sit smart- by changing position frequently. Using seats that have good lower back support, armrests, and a swivel base.
Causes of back pain.
- Muscle strain- caused by lifting heavy loads thus resulting in straining of the spinal ligaments.
- Bulging disks- disks are cushions between bones in the spine. Pressure is exerted on the disks they might bulge or rupture thus pressing on the nerve and resulting in pain.
- Arthritis – spinal stenosis a condition where there is a narrowing of spaces around the spinal cord.
- Osteoporosis- painful breaks can develop on the spine’s vertebrae if the bones become brittle.
- Axial spondyloarthritis- may cause some of the bones in the spine to fuse thus making the spine less flexible.
- Age common to people in the age between 30- 40yrs.
- Excess weight puts extra stress on the back.
- Disease e.g. arthritis.
- Lack of exercise as it makes some muscles to be weak.
- Wrong lifting methods where one uses the back rather than the legs to lift.
- Smoking as it decreases the blood flow to the spine thus increasing the risk of osteoporosis.
Prevention of Back pain
- Doing regular exercises e.g. swimming or cycling as it increases strength and endurance.
- Maintaining a healthy weight by eating a balanced diet so as to avoid being obese.
- No smoking.
- X-ray- shows if there are broken bones or arthritis.
- MRI OR CT scan- provide images that can reveal problems within the bones, muscles, tissues, nerves, or even the blood vessels.
- Blood tests to determine if it’s due to infection.
- Nerve studies- where electromyography confirms if there is pressure on the nerves from the herniated disks.
- Medications – determined by the severity of back pain. One may use:
- Pain relievers e.g ibuprofen or aleven.
- Muscle relaxants although some cause dizziness and sleepiness.
- Narcotics – under close medical supervision drugs with opioids can be used for a short term.
- Anti-depressants e.g. tricyclic.
- Physical therapy – where some exercises are shown to increase flexibility, and strengthen back and abdominal muscles.
- Surgery- in conditions where spinal spaces are narrow.
- Use of implanted nerve stimulators which uses electrical impulses on nerves to block pain signals.
- Cortisone injections combined with numb medication are used. While cortisone decreases inflammation on the nerve root, numb medication relieves the pain.
- Radiofrequency ablation – a fine needle is used to pass radio waves to the nerve which damages them and thus interferes with pain signals to the brain.