by The Welthi Bureau 10th July, 2019
You cannot generalise a back ache, and in fact it’s important to be aware that if you are experiencing discomfort in your back it could be indicative of a number of different problems. Each back problem is unique and requires its own treatment plan. Always seek medical attention and never self-medicate when it comes to your back.
Your spine is a complex structure both in form and function, and many interconnected and overlapping parts of the spine are capable of causing back pain. The spine is also extremely prone to injury caused by twisting, sudden jolts, poor posture, etc.
Some common causes of back ache include:
• Irritation of the large nerve roots that go to the legs and arms
• Irritation of the smaller nerves in the discs
• Strain of the large back muscles that support the spine
• Injury of the bones, ligaments or joints throughout the spine
Some common classifications of back ache:
Axial Pain: This is also called mechanical pain. It is recognised by a sharp or dull, constant pain that comes and goes. A common cause of Axial Pain is a muscle strain.
Referred Pain: This can be recognised as a dull pain that tends to move around and vary in intensity. Referred Pain can be caused to the hips and posterior thighs by degenerative disc disease in the lower back.
Radicular Pain:This is a deep and searing pain, following the path of the nerve into the arm or leg, and may be accompanied by numbness or weakness. It is caused by compression, inflammation and/or injury to a spinal nerve root. The terms Sciatica or Radiculopathy are used to describe Radicular Pain. This condition is caused by a herniated disc or spinal stenosis or spondylolisthesis.
It is vital that you seek the advice of a Doctor when you experience any kind of back pain. However, it is quite common that even after many tests and visits to your doctor, you may not find the reason for your back ache. In such cases it is still important that your pain be treated, and options considered to help alleviate and manage the pain. In certain cases, psychological factors such as depression and insomnia magnify the pain, and therefore these root causes need to be included in a comprehensive treatment program.
You need to see a Spine Specialist for persistent back pain and/or any neurological symptoms. The Spine Specialist will investigate more serious medical conditions that could possibly be causing the pain, such as a tumour or infection. In rare cases, certain back pain symptoms are a sign of a life threatening medical emergency, that requires prompt medical attention.
If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, seek medical help without delay:
• Progressive weakness in the legs and/or loss of bowel or bladder control
• Unexplained weight loss accompanied by pain and neurological impairment
• Acute, severe stomach pain along with lower back pain which causes you to double up and not be able to stand up straight
• Fever with increased pain which does not respond to commonly used fever medication
Patients who suffer from sudden bladder and/or bowel incontinence, or who feel progressive weakness or numbness in the hips, crotch and legs, should seek immediate medical help, as these symptoms could indicate ‘Cauda Equina Syndrome’, which is usually caused by severe compression of the entire nerve sac in the lower spine.
Your back is precious and needs protection and care. Don’t over strain it. Check to see that your sleep posture is conducive to a healthy spine, and above all, remain relaxed and stress free.
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