Don’t be Spineless When it Comes to Back Pain.

What are the chances that you are hunched over your computer, or sitting in a train, bus or cab, with your neck bent down and poring over your hand held device as you’re reading this article, and there’s a pain in your neck, middle or lower back? No surprise there, as back pain is now almost synonymous with our modern urban lifestyles. But what is surprising is how ignored it is, given the fact that studies on low back pain in India cite an alarming fact of at least 60% or more having suffered from it at least once in their lifetime. In fact studies reveal that low back pain is the 2nd most prevalent cause of disability in the US and in light of this, the 2nd largest cause of absence from work in the US (not so surprisingly).

The Probable Causes of Back Pain

The spinal column provides our bodies with the mobility and support we need to stand, walk and be flexible in our movements. How does this spinal column consisting of a stack of 24 bones called the vertebrae give us so much freedom and yet be so debilitating? Let’s examine some of the ways that our backs hurt and cause pain.

Muscle strain – when the muscles surrounding the spine are stretched beyond normal, like lifting or pushing something heavy, or lifting things carelessly, then the back cries out in pain.

Posture –possibly the most common cause because a large number of us don’t sit, stand or walk in the way we were meant to. We slouch when we walk, or hunch up our shoulders while working, or even the way we sit in our cars while driving, all of this can have a direct impact on how our back feels.

Accidents – back pain resulting after a serious accident, injuries from a fall, (a fall in the bathroom for instance can be quite grievous), sports injuries caused during practice, constant strain on the back due to repetitive movement like too many gym reps, or some awkward movement like the way we sleep, can cause our back to hurt.

Illness – Osteoporosis leading to the brittleness of the bones, especially common among women, can lead to back pain. Arthritis or a pinched nerve like sciatica or a slipped disc can also be attributed to the cause of back pain.

Warning Signs That Need A Doctor Or a Spine Specialist

In most cases of back pain, people tend to ignore it. However, there are several different kinds of back pain and if you happen to live in cities such as Bangalore consisting of a large number of IT professionals, the incidences of back pain are numerous. It might be a good idea to take an appointment with a doctor or spine specialist to understand about back pain treatment. But first let’s look at some kinds of back pain which need attention:

  • Nerve irritation or herniated disc - when there’s pain starting from the lower back and going all the way down your leg to the ankle it could be due to some nerve irritation caused by a herniated disc. This could result in perhaps a tingling sensation, persistent pain and maybe even numbness of your leg and definitely needs expert medical attention.
  • Chronic pain - when pain occurs near the neck, base of the spine or lower back and has been persistent for 10-12 weeks or more and is quite severe, is a chronic condition that needs medical intervention.
  • Osteoarthritis - if you’re mobility is restricted or very painful, for instance, when you’re bending to pick up a dropped item or to tie your shoe laces, or reaching up and above your head for something, it could be due to osteoarthritis and would need to be checked by a doctor.
  • Imbalance or limping - if you’re limping or if you tend to lose your balance when you walk and also suffer from back pain, you need to see a doctor.
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control - if you suffer from sudden loss of bladder or bowel control and suffer from back pain, then it could be a serious condition that needs urgent medical attention.

Keep Yourself Free From Back Pain

Any kind of back pain, if left unattended for too long, can be painful and crippling. There are a few things you can do to prevent back pain.

  • Low impact exercise like swimming, walking or even bicycling regularly will help in maintaining your overall fitness and not strain your back.
  • In consultation with your doctor, perform some stretching exercises that could help soothe and loosen up your stiff back muscles.
  • Be mindful of your posture when you sit – preferably have a foot stool under your desk – and sit or stand straight with your stomach pulled in.
  • Check if your chairs give you the good back support.
  • Choose a good mattress – not too soft or too hard – just a balanced one.

Don’t be spineless when it comes to back pain. Take preventive action and in case pain persists then don’t wait, consult a neurologist or a spine specialist.