Back pain includes lower back pain, middle back pain, upper back pain or low back pain with sciatica. It can be a result of nerve and muscular problems, degenerative disc disease, and arthritis.
Symptoms of back pain are:
- Persistent aching or stiffness anywhere along the spine,
- Sharp, localized pain in the neck, upper back, or lower back, especially after lifting heavy objects or engaging in other strenuous activity,
- Chronic ache in the middle or lower back, especially after sitting or standing for extended periods,
- Back pain which radiates from the low back to the buttock, down the back of the thigh, and into the calf and toes,
- Inability to stand straight without having pain or muscle spasms in the lower back.
The most common causes of back pain are:
- Injury or overuse,
- Pressure on nerve roots from conditions such as a herniated disk or spinal stenosis,
- Osteoarthritis, which is usually caused by getting older.
The following factors may increase the risk for back pain. Some of them cannot be controlled like growing older, being a man, being pregnant, having a family history of back pain, having a problem with the spine that has been present since birth (congenital), and having a degenerative disease of the spine, such as osteoporosis or arthritis. But we can control:
- Not exercising regularly
- Sitting for long periods, lifting or pulling heavy objects, bending or twisting frequently, heavy physical exertion, repetitive motions, and exposure to constant vibration, such as from driving
- Being overweight
- Being under a lot of stress
- Having a mental health problem, such as depression or severe anxiety
- Having an illness or disease that causes chronic coughing
The following activities may increase the risk of back pain:
- Running or jogging
- Skiing and snowboarding
- Sledding, snowmobiling, or tobogganing
- Sports that require forceful twisting, such as gymnastics and wrestling
- Work-related activities that require repeated lifting, bending, or twisting of the back
In some cases, chronic or severe back pain can lead to complications. It can cause disability which is the most common reason resulting in sick leave. Back pain limits mobility and range of motion required for standing, bending and sitting.
If the back pain results from a slipped or herniated disc, this may irritate, compress and damage the spinal nerve as it passes through the nerve canal between the vertebrae and the complications include weakness and numbness in the leg and severe shooting pain traveling from the back to the leg at one side of the body due to sciatica.
There are some things you can do that may help prevent back pain. And they can prepare you for faster recovery if you do have low back pain.
- Exercise to keep your back healthy and strong,
- Learn how to lift objects safely to protect your back,
- Think about your posture, whether you are sitting or standing,
- Exercise to keep your back healthy and strong.