Back Pain

What is Back Pain?

Back Pain is a message sent along the nerves to tell the brain that something is damaging the body. The brain then sends a message to the muscles or organ to take action – for example, it tells the hand to get away from what’s burning it.

The back is a well-designed structure made up of bone, muscles, nerves and other soft tissues. You rely on your back to be the workhorse of the body – its function is essential for nearly every move you make. Because of this, the back can be particularly vulnerable to injury and back pain can be disabling.

What are the causes of Back Pain?

Some of the causes of Back Pain are-

  • Muscle strain.
  • Back injury.
  • Overuse.
  • Muscle disorders.
  • Pressure on a nerve root.
  • Poor posture.
  • Lack of exercise.
  • Standing or bending down for long periods.
  • Sitting in a chair that doesn’t provide enough back support.
  • Sleeping on a mattress that doesn’t provide enough back support.

Pregnant women, smokers, construction workers, and people who perform repetitive lifting all have increased risk of back pain.

What are the symptoms of Back Pain?

There are a few symptoms that are possible indications of a serious medical condition requiring surgery, and patients with these symptoms should seek medical attention immediately. These symptoms include:

  • Sudden bowel and/or bladder incontinence (cauda equina syndrome).
  • Progressive weakness in the legs (cauda equina syndrome).
  • Severe, continuous abdominal and low back pain.
  • The pain may become worse with activity.
  • Occasionally, the pain may be worse at night or with prolonged sitting such as on a long car trip.

What treatment can be done for Back Pain?

Treatment options include physical therapy, back exercises, weight reduction, steroid injections (epidural steroids), nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, rehabilitation and limited activity. All of these treatment options are aimed at relieving the inflammation in the back and irritation of nerve roots. Physicians usually recommend four to six weeks of conservative therapy before considering surgery.

If low back pain occurs after a recent injury, such as a car accident, a fall or sports injury, you should call your primary care physician immediately. If there are any neurological symptoms, you should seek medical care immediately. If there are no neurological problems (i.e. numbness, weakness, bowel and bladder dysfunction), you may benefit by beginning conservative treatment at home for two to three days. You may take anti-inflammatory medications such as aspirin or ibuprofen and restrict strenuous activities for a few days.