What is back pain?
Back pain can occur anywhere along the spine, but the most common place is the lower back or lumbar region.
Back pain may be acute or chronic. Acute back pain starts suddenly and intensely, and usually lasts a short time (less than a month). Recurrence is common however, and repeated episodes may eventually lead to chronic back pain.
Chronic Back pain persists beyond three months, and even slight movements can trigger it. Chronic pain is usually harder to treat than acute pain, and often requires specialist advice.
Age: Discs begin gradual deterioration by age 30 and the discs lose moisture and shrink. This puts more stress on the facet joints which become arthritic with resultant back pain.
Being unfit increases your risk for back pain: Lack of exercise can lead to muscle inflexibility, weak back muscles, weak stomach muscles and increase of weight that puts pressure on the vertebrae and discs, and may threaten your back.
Poor posture: e.g. working at a computer, slouching in front of TV.
Genetic factors: Some people are genetically more prone to back pain, usually from inheriting spinal structural abnormalities. Work that stresses the back, risky activities, lifting, forceful movements, bending and twisting into awkward positions. Improper body mechanics during sporting activities can damage the back e.g. a jerky golf swing or incorrect use of exercise equipment.
Smoking can reduce blood flow to the lower spine and cause the spinal discs to degenerate.
Psychosocial factors such as stress, anxiety, depression, job satisfaction, mental stress. People in depression are likely to have vague physical symptoms, including back pain.
Can it be treated?
Most back pain can be treated without surgery and
there are certain things you can do to help reduce,
and even prevent back pain.
Exercise: This may be the most effective way to speed recoveryfrom low back pain and help strengthen back and abdominal muscles.
Heat: All though hot compresses have never been scientifically proven to quickly resolve low back injury, compresses often help reduce pain and inflammation and allow greater mobility. Warm baths may also help relax muscles and reduce pain.
Lifting and bending: Take care to use proper techniques and never lift anything that is too heavy. Good lifting techniques can help prevent further back pain.
Massage: This increases blood flow and circulation, which aids sore muscles and the recovery of soft tissue injury. Massage also decreases muscle tension. This muscle relaxation can improve flexibility, reduce pain and may even improve sleep.
Many people have positive experiences with massage relieving back pain, and here are some of the benefits that people have experienced after a massage:
- Increases flexibility and range of motion
- Physically relaxes the body
- Calms the nervous system
- Loosens up tense muscles
- Increases blood flow
- Makes you relax
- Reduces muscle pain and spasms
- Helps relieve tension-related headaches
- Improves posture by reducing improper muscle tension
- Improves mobility of strained muscles and ligaments
- Reduces tensions caused by negative emotions