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Back Pain

We have often heard of this very common term – Back Pain, which should not be misinterpreted as any kind of disorder or disease. Rather it is a symptom which could be the result of several kinds of medical problems. The intensity of these symptoms can range from mild to severe.

Knowing the structure of Back

Your back comprises of the following parts:

  • Muscles
  • Vertebrae (bony structure that makes the spine)
  • Ligaments
  • Blood Vessels
  • Nerves

Pain in the back could be associated with problems related to one or more of the above structures.

Whys of Back Pain

Let us learn about the main causes of back pain now:

  • Strained muscles and ligaments or a muscle spasm. This strain occurs mostly because of lifting something too heavy, or lifting things in an improper way.
  • Structural Problems that lead to spine discs getting ruptured, herniated or protruded.
  • Sciatica, which is a sharp pain that moves down the back through the buttock.
  • Osteoporosis - spinal vertebrae becomes weak and fragile to the extent that even a minor fall or mild stress leads to fracture.
  • Arthritis - inflammation of the joints lead to pain in the lower back, knees, hips and shoulders.
  • Spinal Stenosis - this means narrowing of spaces within spines, leading to increased pressure on the nerves that travel through the spine.
  • Spinal Tumour – an abnormal growth that occurs in or around the spinal cord or within the discs.
  • Other general causes may include infection of the spine, sleep disorders, or simply a bad mattress that does not provide correct support to the spine.

How to ascertain that you have Back Pain?

Following are the common signs & symptoms of back pain:

  • Persistent localised pain and stiffness along the spine. Sometimes, it radiates all the way down to the legs and buttocks.
  • Severe aching in the lower back after sitting or standing for long durations.
  • Any recent injury or trauma to the back resulting in pain.
  • Muscle spasms in the lower back.
  • Numbness around the buttocks or genitals.
  • Feeling of pain while standing up straight from sitting position.
  • Difficulty in flexing the back and reduced range of motion.

How is Back Pain diagnosed?

  • Physical examination wherein your doctor will check your ability to walk and stand, your reflexes, leg strength and ability to feel sensations in the leg.
  • Blood and urine tests to evaluate the related conditions.
  • Bone scan to reveal tumours or compression fractures resulting from osteoporosis.
  • CT scan or MRI to detect problems related to herniated discs or tissues, muscles, tendons, nerves, bones and ligaments.
  • EMG (Electromyography) which helps in diagnosing issues related to nerve compression.

How to get rid of Back Pain?

Following treatment options are known to provide relief from back pain:

  • Medical Management - Majority of back pains get relieved by medications, home remedies and some basic lifestyle changes.
  • Surgical Treatment -  This is required when all other efforts fail to provide relief from back pain. Spinal fusion and other surgical methods are used for treatment of chronic back pain.
  • Physical Therapy - Your physiotherapist may use various techniques like cold and hot compression, electric stimulation, etc. to alleviate your back pain.
  • Alternative Therapies like chiropractic adjustments, acupuncture, CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) and relaxation techniques.

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