Back pain is a common medical condition increasingly affecting the younger population due to unhealthy or sedentary lifestyles. The World Health Organization (WHO) considers back pain as one of the major contributors to discomfort and irritation among people at present.
As a result, it’s essential to understand the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for back pain to manage the condition effectively. Back pain can be acute or chronic, with people usually experiencing upper, middle, or lower back pain. Sometimes, they also experience pain in the legs and other body parts.
Factors such as poor posture, injuries, spinal conditions and lifestyle factors such as obesity or sedentary behavior result in excruciating back pain. Therefore, it’s important to identify the underlying cause and create a suitable treatment plan to manage back pain effectively. That said, let’s discuss the causes of back pain in detail below.
Cause of Back Pain
Many factors cause back pain. Though some common ones frequently affect individuals. These are described below:
Muscle strain is one of the common causes of back pain. It is caused by overexertion, lifting heavy objects, or sudden movements. This condition typically impacts the lower back and is usually accompanied by muscle spasms and a limited range of motion.
This condition results from the soft material inside a spinal disc protruding through a tear in the disc’s outer layer. It can put additional pressure on the nerves, causing back pain, numbness, or weakness in the legs. It is more common in the lower back.
Osteoarthritis is a joint disease affecting the spine and occurs when the protective cartilage cushioning the joints wears down with age, causing friction between the bones.
This condition results from spinal canal narrowing, adding additional pressure on the nerves. It can cause back pain, numbness, tingling, or leg weakness. It is more common in older adults and can be caused by age-related changes in the spine.
Spondylolisthesis is when one vertebra slips onto the one below, causing back pain, numbness, tingling, or leg weakness. Spondylolisthesis is more common in the lower back and is usually caused by aging, injury, or a congenital disability.
Degenerative Disc Disease
When the spinal discs degenerate, it causes degenerative disc disease. This spinal disease is more common in older adults and can be caused by aging, injury, or wear and tear on the spine.
Osteoporosis is accompanied by a loss in bone density, making them prone to fractures. This condition affects the spine and causes compression fractures, leading to back pain and decreasing height.
If you experience severe back pain, it’s best to consult with a healthcare provider. They also help identify the underlying cause and suggest some effective remedies. Now that we know the causes of back pain let’s look at the symptoms discussed below.
Symptoms of Back Pain
Back pain is a common health problem that affects people of all ages and can have various causes. The symptoms of back pain can vary depending on the underlying condition. However, some common back pain symptoms include
It type of pain is constant and deep but seldom intense. Generally, muscle strains or sprains can cause it, worsening back flexibility.
A sudden, intense pain that feels like a stab or electric shock. This condition is caused by a herniated disc or a pinched nerve in the body.
The symptoms point to tightness or difficulty moving the back, especially after sitting or standing for long periods. Besides these symptoms, back pain can also cause numbness, tingling, or weakness. The symptoms may indicate that the pain is caused by nerve damage or compression.
Other back pain symptoms may include:
- Limited Range of Motion
It refers to restricted back flexibility, especially when bending or twisting.
- Muscle Spasms
These are usually involuntary muscles contraction in the back that are painful and limit spinal movement.
- Radiating Pain
This type of pain is felt in a specific area of the back but may also spread to other body parts, such as the arms, legs, or chest.
It’s important to note that back pain symptoms can vary widely depending on the underlying condition. Therefore, seeking medical attention is important if you experience persistent or severe back pain.
Back Pain Treatment Options
It’s no hidden fact that back pain can be excruciating and impact an individual’s quality of life. Treatment options for back pain can vary depending on the cause and severity of the pain. So, let’s start by understanding the non-surgical treatment options.
Non-Surgical Treatment Options
Exercises are often recommended to treat back pain. Performing regular exercises can help improve strength, flexibility, and range of motion. In contrast, exercises can help strengthen the back muscles and abdomen to alleviate pain and discomfort. Some recommended exercises include low-impact aerobic, stretching, and strength-training exercises.
Usually, medications can help manage back pain, including pain relievers, muscle relaxants, and anti-inflammatory drugs. Pain relievers can also help reduce pain, while muscle relaxants can help relieve muscle spasms.
In some cases, injections help alleviate back pain. For instance, epidural steroid injections can reduce inflammation in the spine, while nerve blocks can temporarily block the transmission of pain signals.
Surgical Treatment Options
is a surgical procedure in which two or more vertebrae in the spine are fused to help alleviate pain caused by herniated discs, spinal stenosis, or scoliosis.
A laminectomy is a surgical procedure in which a portion of the vertebrae is removed to relieve pressure on the spinal cord or nerves. This procedure is often used to treat spinal stenosis or herniated discs.
A discectomy is a surgical procedure in which a portion of a herniated disc is removed to relieve pressure on the spinal cord or nerves. This procedure is often used to treat herniated discs or sciatica.
Artificial Disc Replacement
is a surgical procedure where a damaged or degenerated disc is replaced with an artificial one. This procedure is often used to treat conditions such as degenerative disc disease.
Generally, the treatment options for back pain vary with the cause and severity of the pain. Self-care measures such as rest, ice or heat therapy, and over-the-counter pain medications may sometimes be sufficient. However, if the pain persists or is accompanied by other symptoms, such as numbness or tingling, it is important to seek medical attention.
Therefore, it is crucial to recognize the importance of seeking medical attention for back pain, as it can help patients and doctors prepare in case of an underlying condition. Delaying treatment can lead to further complications and potentially long-term or chronic pain.