Back Pain

One of the most common Injuries we would see in the clinic and it can be cause from numerous things like poor posture, sports injuries, poor footwear, work related injuries etc

 

What does it feel like?

In most cases rather than an acute stabbing pain, it is a dull stiffness or tension in the back. The pain can be triggered by an awkward posture, bending or sitting awkwardly, or lifting incorrectly.

Usually back pain is not a serious disease and usually gets better by 12 weeks. Exercises and pain relievers and advice of good posture maintenance is the treatment of choice.

Types

Back pain may occur at any part of the back but commonly affects the lower back. The pain may also be felt along the spine, neck or hips. Common types of back pain include:

  • Neck pain
  • Ankylosing spondylosis
  • Whiplash injury
  • Sprains and injuries
  • Frozen shoulder
  • Slipped or bulging disc (this lies like a cushion between two vertebrae)
  • Sciatica
  • Arthritis
  • Osteoporosis and vertebral fractures
  • Skeletal irregularities (e.g., scoliosis, kyphosis, lordosis, back extension, back flexion)
  • Other conditions include fibromyalgia, stress, pregnancy, kidney stones or infections, endometriosis etc.
  • More serious causes include cauda equine syndrome, bone cancers, spine infections

Causes

Risk factors:

  • Age – Back pain typically occurs between the ages of 30 and 40. It becomes more common with age.
  • Being overweight or obese – These individuals have too much stress on their spine that may lead to pain.
  • Level of fitness – Back pain is more common among people who are not physically fit, these individuals have weak back muscles.
  • Occupation – Persons who need to lift, push or pull and twist their backs at work, they may be at risk of back pain. Those working for long hours at their desks are also at risk of back pain.
  • Inherited – Some causes of back pain, such as disc disease may be inherited.
  • Smoking – Smoking reduces blood flow to the lower spine and causes the spinal discs to degenerate.
  • Other diseases – Those with arthritis and cancers with spread to bones may also experience back pain.

Warning signs

In most cases a few days of rest and adequate mobility may help in recovery from back pain. However, some symptoms may indicate a deeper problem and mandates a visit to the doctor. These symptoms include:

  • Weight loss that is unexplained
  • Swelling and immobility of the back
  • Fever
  • Pain in the limbs
  • Numbness of the lower limbs or other parts of the body including genitals
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control
  • Worsening pain at night

Treatment

The primary modality of treatment is by remaining mobile and active. Earlier bed rest was advised for back pain. These days it is known that being inactive for long periods is actually bad for the back. Patient is advised moderate activities such as walking and doing their own daily tasks.

Pain relievers like Paracetamol is commonly advised. Hot or cold compression packs may also help reduce the pain. There are other manual therapies including physiotherapy and osteopathy. These may also help relieve pain.

For back pain lasting for more than six weeks exercise classes or manual therapy along with pain relievers are advised. Acupuncture may provide relief in some individuals. Spinal surgery is usually only considered when all else has failed.

Prevention of back pain

  • Maintenance of good posture while sitting, standing, lifting, lying down.
  • Getting up from sitting or lying position is another important factor that needs to be improved to prevent strain to the back.
  • Individuals are advised not to place too much pressure on the back and ensure their back is strong and supple.
  • Regular exercise, such as walking and swimming, is an excellent way of preventing back pain. Yoga and pilates also improve the flexibility and strength of the back muscles.

For more information please call our clinic in Ashford, Co.Wicklow 0404 80005