Your back is a vital body part. It plays an essential role in every part of daily life. Since the back is so important, you want to keep up-to-date on information about back pain and its treatment.
Begin with this basic information.
Information on Back Pain #1 – What Is Your Back?
Back pain can best be understood when you understand the structure of your back, so let’s build a spine. Your back consists of 30 small bones called vertebrae. These bones are stacked on top of each other, and connected by ligaments, tendons, and muscles. Your stack of connected vertebrae is divided into four regions. From the base of your skull down to your pelvis, these four regions are:
1. Cervical or neck vertebrae – the top 7
2. Thoracic or upper back vertebrae – the next 12
3. Lumbar or lower back vertebrae – 5 more
4. Sacrum and coccyx – 6 fused bones at the spine’s base
Between your vertebrae are round, spongy cartilage pads called disks. Disks act as shock absorbers for your spine. A column-like spinal cord runs through your stack of vertebrae. It, too, is divided into segments similar to nearby vertebrae. Your spinal cord contains nerve roots and nerve rootlets that spread out, sending messages of pain from your back to your brain.
Information on Back Pain #2 – Back Pain’s Causes
Back pain is among the most common complaints. It is also one of the most painful. Since it can be difficult to treat, it is important that you have good information on back pain. Most good information on back pain will agree that when you lift something too heavy, you may cause a sprain, pull, strain, or spasm in one of the muscles or ligaments in your back. That will cause back pain.
Let’s look at more specific information on back pain.
1. Your cervical spine, or upper back, begins at the base of your skull. It is composed of seven vertebrae with eight pairs of cervical nerves. This part of your spine is designed to support your head and give you mobility.
Injury or mild trauma to the cervical spine can cause one of a number of serious, even life-threatening medical emergencies. You might have a spinal cord injury (SCI) or a fracture. Such injury could cause pain, numbness, weakness, and tingling.
2. Your thoracic spine is just below your cervical spine. Your ribs are connected to this part of the spine. Think of it as the back of your chest. Your thoracic spine is designed to be strong and stable, permitting you to stand upright and protecting your vital internal chest organs. Although thoracic, or middle back pain is rather uncommon, it causes significant pain when it does occur.
The most common causes of middle back pain are muscular irritation and joint dysfunction. You may injure a disk, and cause middle back pain, but such injuries are very rare.
3. Your lumbar spine, or lower back region, is most likely to experience pain. This is because your lumbar region supports the weight of your upper body. It takes the most abuse.
Many things can cause injury and pain to your lower back. As with all parts of the spine, muscle strain or spasm may occur when you lift or carry things that are too heavy. Sprains of ligaments occur in similar manner. You may experience joint problems or a “slipped disk.”
The most common cause of lumbar or lower back pain, though, is simply using your back muscles for actions you usually do not do. Perhaps you sit at a desk most days, but one weekend, you help friends move furniture. Or you normally teach school, but during the summer, you decide to create a large vegetable garden in your back yard.
A so-called “slipped disk” (herniated disk) occurs when a disk, one of those spongy cartilage pads between your spines vertebrae bulges out and presses on nerves. This often occurs when you twisting while lifting something. You may not know what caused your slipped disk, if it happens. You will know the lower back pain that comes as a result.
Information on Back Pain #3 – Back Pain and Your Physician
Not every back pain will require a visit to your physician. Many back pains can be treated effectively at home with heating pads and ice packs. Over-the-counter (OTC) medications can also give the relief needed. However, there are times when you will want your physician to give information on back pain, and prescribe treatment.
Seek a qualified physician if any of the following is true:
• Your pain is so bad you can’t move around
• Your pain is not less after two weeks
• Your pain was caused by an injury
• You have a fever
• You feel nauseous or are vomiting
• You have a stomachache
• You are weak or sweating
• Your pain goes down the leg below your knee
• You lose control over going to the bathroom
• Your foot, leg, rectal, or groin area is numb
Information on Back Pain #4 – Back Pain Prevention
Your health care provider, whether physician, chiropractor or other, will encourage you to maintain an active, healthy lifestyle as part of back pain prevention. The best information on back pain they can provide you is to avoid injury in the first place. Develop healthy back habits. The following five bad habits can cause back pain. Avoid them.
• Twisting when lifting
• Bad posture
• Lack of exercise and too much weight
• Smoking tobacco
• Ignoring back pain
The more information on back pain you have, the better prepared you will be to deal with it.