Wake up, eat breakfast, get dressed, and run to work. The start of every morning is a test in multitasking effectively. Yet, the ultimate multitasking is occurring within the structure of your back as you make your way through the start of your day. Your spine is a unique combination of bones, discs, joints and supportive muscles that is continually completing the tasks of keeping you upright and moving. (1) It protects the spinal cord, checks on nerve roots, relays messages to the brain, absorbs the shock of a heavy load, and supports the body.
With many parts, functions and constant tasks, the back is vulnerable to pain. According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, 75 to 85 percent of Americans will experience back pain in their lifetime. (3) Efficiency in performance can be hindered by:
- Muscle Strain: Commonly occurs with incorrect lifting of heavy objects and sudden awkward movements; can also result from over-activity.
- Ligament Strain: Often happens because something is off in the ligaments’ interaction with the rest of the spine.
- Bulging or ruptured disks: Disks are areas of tissue that cushion the space between each vertebra (a fairly common cause of pain).
- Skeletal irregularities: Vertebrae, the interlocking bones stacked on top of one another that make up the spine, can form irregularly.
- Arthritis: Joint disease that causes stiffness, swelling, and inflammation.
- Inflammation of the muscles in the spine.
- Osteoporosis: Bones lose integrity and structure.
- Emotions: Stress can lead to muscle tension in the back; depression and anxiety may worsen pain.
- Loss of bone density: The discs, or “shock absorbers” between your spine’s vertebrae, shrink or tear which causes the bones to rub together.
- Herniated Disk: The soft tissue in the discs between your joints comes out. It’s usually caused by wear and tear.
- Sciatica: Pain that radiates along the path of the sciatic nerve, which branches from your lower back through your hips, buttocks and down the legs.
- Inflammation and wear of the sacroiliac joint: This lies where your spine and pelvis come together. It moves the load of the upper body to the lower body.
- Scoliosis: Curvature of the spine.
- Cervical radiculopathy: A pinched nerve usually caused by a bone spur or a herniated disc.
- Pregnancy: The weight you gain when you’re expecting can strain your back.
- Narrowing of the spinal canal, spinal stenosis: Added pressure on your spine and nerves. Common in individuals older than 60.
- Displacement of one vertebral body onto another: Degenerative spondylolisthesis.
- Loss of nerve function at the lower spinal cord: Known as cauda equine syndrome, which is a medical emergency.
- Fungal or bacterial infection of the spine.
- Cancer or non-malignant tumor in the spine.
- Accidents and Injuries: Cause residual trauma to the back.
The symptoms and causes are a spectrum that vary in intensity and urgency. Various sources recommend testing or imaging studies to confirm sensations you may have. (3, 4).
Ways to Prevent Back Pain
Keeping movements intentional and maintaining awareness of how we move can alleviate the risk of back pain. These guides can help (1):
Desk ergonomics and maintaining aligned posture.
- Avoid lifting heavy objects.
- Strengthening abdominal muscles to support the spine.
- Staying at a healthy weight for your body.
- Exercising, even in small quantities.
- Wearing high heels in moderation.
Working with a Physical and/or Massage Therapist is vital to finding a specialized solution for your back pain. From tension caused from stress to post accident rehabilitation, the team at James Fowler has your back and all its components.
- Veritashealth.com, (https://www.spine-health.com/blog/basics-back-pain-and-spinal-anatomy). 1999-2017.
- Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, (https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/back-pain/basics/causes/con-20020797). 1998-2017.
- Healthline Media, (https://www.healthline.com/health/back-pain). 2005 – 2017.
- WebMD. LLC, (https://www.webmd.com/back-pain/guide/causes-back-pain#1). 2005 – 2017.
- Frank H. Netter via Mother Fitness Blog, (http://www.motherfitness.com/). 2014.