Back pain is one of the top reasons for physician visits and lost time at work. Back pain can range from simply annoying to completely debilitating. It doesn’t matter if you have been lifting weights your whole life or been a couch potato, back pain can find you. Simple everyday tasks can turn into excruciating injuries with just a simple crouch, bend or twist. Knowing what causes back pain and how to avoid it are important to reduce the chances of being laid up due to a back injury.
Back pain actually refers to a group of injuries or disorders that can cause pain in the back area. Back pain may occur anywhere along the back. It may be bone or muscle related pain. The pain may be focused in one area of the back or may radiate to other areas.
Pain in the back can take many forms and have many causes. Back pain is more than just pain in the back; it has underlying causes that must be addressed to reduce the pain. Failure to correct the underlying causes can lead to chronic back problems and continued back pain.
The back has a complex anatomy of bones and muscles. The base of the skeletal system is the spinal column. This is made up of 33 individual vertebrae grouped into specific areas of the spine. The upper portion (neck) is the cervical spine and consists of 7 vertebrae. Below that is the thoracic section with 12 vertebrae, followed by the 5 vertebrae of the lumbar spine, 5 in the sacral region and finally, 4 in the coccygeal region. The vertebrae all fit together in a straight line when viewed from the front or back, with a natural curvature that is convex in the cervical area, concave in the thoracic, back to convex in the lumbar, and ending with a concave curve in the pelvic region (sacral and coccygeal.) The vertebrae are held together with strong fibrous ligaments. In between the vertebrae are fluid filled discs that allow for the limited movement and provide cushioning.
Treatment of back pain can take on many forms depending on the type, and source, of the pain. As stated above, the correction of the underlying cause of the pain is the most important step in treatment. There are many traditional methods of treatment that have been used by many; however, these may not be the best choices.
Traditionally, back pain sufferers have gone to orthopedic surgeons to address the problem. These doctors often prescribe cortisone shots and anti-inflammatory medications to deal with the pain. The problem here is that it does not address the underlying cause, so it is a short term fix. Surgical interventions are often prescribed, also. These may help with the immediate issue causing pain, however the new scarring will cause additional pain and the original cause of the problem probably has not been fixed. So, the pain will return again when the same forces are applied to the area.