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What is back pain?

Back pain is a term that every person is well aware of. Back pain cannot be termed as a disorder or disease, it is more complex than that.

Back pain can be a result of an injury, some activities or certain medical conditions.

There are three parts of your back: upper back, central back and lower back. Some people have pain in their upper back or central back while others might have pain in their lower back.

According to a Neurologist in Lahore, the main symptom or sign of back pain is a feeling of ache or pain anywhere in the back. Sometimes back pain goes all the way down to legs.

What are the risk factors of back pain?

Following are some factors that make you prone to developing back pain:

  • pregnancy
  • excess weight
  • old age
  • smoking
  • genetic factors
  • occupational activities
  • sedentary lifestyle
  • strenuous exercises if done incorrectly
  • medical conditions like cancer or arthritis

What are the causes of back pain?

Human back is a combination of muscles, tendons, ligaments, discs and bones which work simultaneously to support the entire human body and help us move around. So problems within any of these components results in back pain.

There may be some cases where the causes stay unclear. But some most common causes of back pain are:

Structural problems: Following structural problems may lead to back pain:

  1. Ruptured discs: Every vertebra of your spine is supported by a cushion of discs. If these discs rupture then there is more pressure on the nerves which results in back pain.
  2. Sciatica: Sciatica is a form of a shooting pain that travels from your back through buttocks and down to the leg.
  3. Bulging discs: Bulging discs create pressure on the nerves hence they result in back pain.
  4. Arthritis: Arthritis causes problems within the joints in hips, lower back and other parts of your body so it causes back pain.
  5. Abnormal shape of the spine: If your spine starts curving itself in an unusual way it can result in back pain.
  6. Kidney problems: Stones or infections in the kidney lead to back pain
  7. Osteoporosis: Osteoporosis is a disease which causes the bones of your body to become brittle and porous. So it can be a reason for back pain.

Strains: The most common cause of back pain is strain which can either be in the form of tension or injury. Activities that lead to strains or spasm in the back muscles and ligaments are: lifting something that is extremely heavy, lifting heavy objects improperly or making abrupt movements.

Posture and movement problems: Sitting excessively in front of a computer can cause a hunched sitting position which pressurises the back and shoulders alike and can lead to severe back pain.

Every day activities like overstretching, bending awkwardly, lifting heavy objects, long drives, sleeping on a poor mattress, or twisting can also lead to back pain.

Some medical Conditions that lead to back pain are:

  • Cancer in the spine
  • Infection in the spine
  • Shingles
  • Sleep disorders
  • Cauda equina syndrome
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease

How can the causes of back pain be diagnosed?

Most doctors are able to diagnose back pain after they enquire about a patient’s symptoms and carry out a physical examination. Whilst some doctors may also order imaging scans or tests to make a proper diagnosis. These scans are:

  • MRI
  • X-RAYS
  • Electromyography
  • Bone scans

How can back pain be treated?

With some rest, painkillers and lifestyle changes back pain usually goes away. But if it doesn’t patients might require following treatments:

Physical therapy: Applying heat and ice can help with back pain relief. Some physical therapists also apply electrical stimulation to relieve the pain. They may also introduce strength training exercises to improve the posture of your back.

Cortisone injections: Cortisone is an anti-inflammatory drug, it is available in injectable form. It helps relieve back pain by reducing inflammation around the roots of your nerves.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy CBT can be helpful in managing chronic back pain because it introduces relaxation techniques and helps in maintaining a positive attitude. Patients who go for CBT become active by exercising regularly which eventually lowers their back pain.

Surgery: Even though surgery for back pain is very rare, but if a patient is facing continuous pain and nerve compression which doesn’t seem to get better surgery might help them.

How can back pain be prevented?

Below mentioned are some tips and tricks suggested by a Neurologist in Karachi that can help lower your risk of developing back pain:

  1. Exercising regularly can help in reducing as well as preventing back pain by building strength and keeping your body weight under control.
  2. Make sure that you take a diet that is rich in calcium and vitamin D so that your bone health stays intact.
  3. Smokers are more likely to have back pain, so it’s better if you move away from smoking if you don’t want to have back pain.
  4. Maintain a well balanced posture throughout the day.
  5. Try maintaining a healthy body weight because obese people are prone to getting back pain.
  6. Don’t lift and move heavy objects.
  7. Get a mattress that keeps your spinal cord straight and at ease. Use a thin pillow.
  8. Wear shoes that are not too flat, as flat shoes put a lot of strain on your back.

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