Back pain: All you should know

Back pain: All you should know

Back pain is a common reason for absence from work and for seeking medical treatment. It can be uncomfortable and debilitating. It can result from injury, activity and some medical conditions. Back pain can affect people of any age, for different reasons. As people get older, the chance of developing lower back pain increases, due to factors such as previous occupation and degenerative disc disease.

Lower Back Pain: Lower back pain may be linked to the bony lumbar spine, discs between the vertebrae, ligaments around the spine and discs, spinal cord and nerves, lower back muscles, abdominal and pelvic internal organs, and the skin around the lumbar area.

Upper Back Pain: Pain in the upper back may be due to disorders of the aorta, tumours in the chest, and spine inflammation.

Types of Back Pain?
Back pain is categorised into two types:
• Acute pain starts suddenly and lasts for up to 6 weeks.
• Chronic or long-term pain develops over a longer period, lasts for over 3 months, and causes ongoing problems.

Causes of Back Pain
The human back is composed of a complex structure of muscles, ligaments, tendons, discs, and bones, which work together to support the body and enable us to move around.
The segments of the spine are cushioned with cartilage-like pads called discs.
Problems with any of these components can lead to back pain. In some cases of back pain, its cause remains unclear.
Damage can result from strain, medical conditions, and poor posture, among others.

Back pain commonly stems from strain, tension, or injury. Activities that can lead to strains or spasms include:
•Lifting something improperly
•Lifting something that is too heavy making an abrupt and awkward movement

Structural problems
A number of structural problems may also result in back pain.
Bulging /Ruptured disc
• Sciatica
• Arthritis
• Abnormal curvature
of the spine
• Osteoporosis
• Kidney problems

Movement and posture
Back pain can also result from some everyday activities or poor posture.

Other causes
Some medical conditions can lead to back pain.
• Cancer of the spine
• Infection of the spine
• Sleep disorders

Risk factors
The following factors are linked to a higher risk of developing low back pain:
• occupational activities
• pregnancy
• a sedentary lifestyle
• poor physical fitness
• older age
• obesity and excess weight
• smoking
• strenuous physical exercise or work, especially if done incorrectly
• genetic factors
• medical conditions, such as arthritis and cancer
When to see a doctor
You should seek medical help if you experience any numbness or tingling, or if you have back pain:
that does not improve with rest
• after an injury or fall
• with numbness in the legs
• with weakness
• with fever
• with unexplained weight loss

A doctor will usually be able to diagnose back pain after asking about symptoms and carrying out a physical examination. An imaging scan like X-Ray, MRI or CT Scan, Bone Scans, EMG and other tests may be required to be done.

Back pain usually resolves with rest and home remedies, but sometimes medical treatment is necessary. Initial treatments comprise of applying a hot compress or an ice pack to the painful area. Resting from strenuous activity can help, but moving around will ease stiffness, reduce pain, and prevent muscles from weakening.

Medical treatment
If home treatments do not relieve back pain, a doctor may recommend medicines, physical therapy or both.

If a patient has a herniated disc, surgery may be an option, especially if there is persistent pain and nerve compression which can lead to muscle weakness. Some of the surgeries are Fusion, Artificial disc, Discectomy, Partially removing a vertebra and injecting cells to regenerate spine discs.

Steps to lower the risk of developing back pain consist mainly of addressing some of the risk factors.
• Exercise regularly
• Have balanced diet
• Quit smoking
• Maintain ideal body weight
• Keep right posture when
standing, sitting
• Use right way to lift heavy objects
• Do not lift and twist at the same time
• Use flat shoes
• Drive with proper back support
• Use medical mattresses
• Backache which is a  significant disabling symptom resulting in loss of precious manpower can be effectively prevented and treated with proper diagnosis and medical care by the modern developments in medicine.

About the Doctors
Dr Ilan Chezhian

Dr Ilan Chezhian, Orthopaedic Surgeon at Badr Al Samaa Hospital, Barka, has many success stories behind him, having mastered minimally invasive arthroplasty surgeries, arthroscopy, sports injuries, paediatric and spine cases along with trauma and poly trauma cases.

Dr Aby Thomas Ben
Dr Aby Thomas Ben, Orthopaedic Surgeon at Badr Al Samaa Hospital, Barka has extensive experience in treating complicated cases of trauma and orthopedics. His areas of interest include arthroscopies, hand surgeries and sports medicine.

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