Back pain is a common disease in the world. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there is more than 70% of the world population at least once suffered from back pain. Among them, approximately 60-80% of people having acute back pain, while the number of patients suffering from chronic back pain is about 10-20%.
There are many reasons why a person endures back pain. There are also numerous types, symptoms and treatment methods of back pain. Knowing how to prevent and how to relieve back pain is critical. However, many people despise and do not seek early medical treatment, which leads to unfortunate issues.
In this article, I’m going to reveal you a lot of things. Some of them are common causes of back pain, symptoms of back pain, how to diagnose back pain, when to call a doctor, how to prevent back pain, different kinds of back pain, and how to relieve back pain. Let’s find out right now!
What is Back Pain?
Back pain is the pain occurring in the back. It’s a common disease that can be found in all ages. However, the proportion of elderly suffering from it is higher, and those who work in offices, spend most of the time for sitting and standing, perform hard work or lack inactivity are at risk of this disease. Diseases, such as disc herniation, scoliosis, kidney stones, osteoporosis or inflammation could result in back pain.
Episodes of back pain could be acute and chronic depending on the duration. Five basic types of back pain include middle, upper, lower, left and right back pain. In many cases, the pain not only occurs in the back and adjacent areas but can also found in the neck, arms, legs, and even feet. Although back pain is not fatal, it causes a big impact on the health and quality of life, especially when the weather changes unexpectedly, unreasonable movements will make the disease much more intense.
Common Causes of Back Pain
According to research published by Johns Hopkins University in 2001, the proportion of smokers suffering from back pain is 2-3 times higher than non-smokers. That’s because the nicotine in cigarettes triggers the blood vessels to shrink, which gradually reduces nutrients and oxygen in backbone as well as degenerates spinal cartilage function of the spine and discs. Besides, smokers are more likely to have atherosclerosis and the increase in the chemical composition in the blood leading to back pain.
Disc herniation is a common disease in the modern life. It can happen at any vertebra of the spine, from the neck vertebrae to the lumbar zone causing severe pain in specific locations on the spine. Disc herniation at lumbar zone causes severe backaches and even spreads to the buttocks, thighs, and legs depending on the severity of nerve damage. More serious, the disease not treated early can trigger serious consequences, including permanent paralysis which destroys the lives of patients.
Paunch or Pregnancy
Both fat paunch or pregnancy increase the pressure on the spine. To keep the body balance, muscles near spine have to give more exertion. Meanwhile, the patient’s body is like a seesaw where the fulcrum is the spine; abdomen causes a pull-down force, while the back muscles exert a pull-up force to keep balance. In the short term, these muscles are strong and overcome, but in the long term, they become unbearable, which results in back pain.
Improper posture in conjunction with excessive working time and intensity make the lumbar muscles and spasticity shrink out of shape, and even spinal ligaments may be stretched suddenly leading to backaches and scoliosis. Among back pain causes, this one is more likely to occur in middle age at or above when the lumbar spine has been in the process of degeneration.
Sitting Too Long
Officers working in the office or students studying in the class sit for over 8 hours per day often suffer from back pain. Sitting all day with a wrong posture is, of course, much more dangerous. If people ignore for a long-term adjustment, warped or deviated spine will be formed. The result is that people feel more pain and sometimes mobile restriction.
The difference of normal back pain and back pain caused by kidney stones is that pains coming from higher positions in the back, usually from the angle created by the end ribs and spine running down the hips and even reaching the genitals. When gravel is not running, the pressure in the renal pelvis changes triggering intermittent aches. When gravel is in operation, patients are struggling to stand and sweat profusely.
Erratic and deficient could be another reason of back pain. The lack of vitamins and minerals, such as phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, leads to osteoporosis. Moreover, processed, sugar- and fat-rich could aggravate inflammation throughout the body, including the upper and lower back. Picking up protein-rich food, such as beef, meat or beans, and calcium-rich food, such as seafood, kale or raw milk could prevent back pain. Of course, don’t forget vegetable.
Symptoms of Back Pain
Among symptoms of back pain, the most distinctive one is, of course, pain. Back pain is the main culprit causing regular and smoldering pains along the back, including both lower and upper backs. Pains also occur at the waist, rib, and even bottom dragging to the legs causing numbness as bending, falling flat, twisting.
Overall symptoms of back pain:
- Pain at various positions
- Restricted movement
- Difficult to stand upright
Each disease has each kind and position of pain, so you need to keep in mind the following symptoms of back pain:
- Upper back pain accompanied by chest tightness, coughing and mild fever, weight loss: Tuberculosis.
- Middle back pain, in some cases, vertebra might be slightly prominent: Painful Spine Disease
- Lower back pain, and more intense after heavy lifting: Sprain, Ligaments Stretch
- Lower back pain, suddenly after heavy lifting: Disc Herniation
- Lower back pain, poor quality sleep. The pain usually occurs at midnight. The joints gradually become inflexible and weakened: Psoriasis
How to Diagnose Back Pain?
First Ask and Physically Check
When clinical examination, your doctor will first ask about your symptoms as well as your case record. Then, he/she checks the back muscles and spine in terms of tenderness and stiffness, evaluates the possibility of sitting, standing, walking and lifting legs. Also, test your reflexibility with a rubber hammer.
These assessments help determine where the pain comes. They will also help eliminate many serious causes of back pain.
If your doctor detects serious problems relating to your vertebrae or spinal nerves or your pain lasts for longer than three months, he/she may appoint one or several tests:
- Blood and Urine Tests: To determine the latent diseases or infections contributing to your back pain.
- X-Rays: Images show the alignment and combination of your bones and joints or fractures. However, they will not display problems with the spinal ligaments, muscles, nerves, and intervertebral disk.
- Magnetic Resonance Image (MRI) or Computed Tomography (CT): Images may reveal a herniation of intervertebral disk or problems related to bones, muscles, tissues, ligaments, nerves, and blood vessels.
- Bone Projection: In rare cases, doctors may use bone projection to find tumors or bone fractures caused by osteoporosis. In this procedure, a small amount of radioactive substance (tracer) will be injected into one of the veins.
- Nervous Test: To measure the electrical impulses generated by the nerves and the body’s response. The study of neural can confirm nerve compression caused by disc herniation or spinal canal narrowing.
Spine has 33 vertebrae: 7 cervical vertebrae (C1-C7); 12 thoracic vertebrae (T1-T12); 5 lumbar vertebrae (L1-L5); sacral vertebrae (S1-S5) and 4 coccyges.
The vertebral column
Is Back Pain Dangerous?
Although back pain is not dangerous to life, once you have, you will face to the difficulty of movement, activity and daily work. In some cases of severe back pain, it could lead to muscle atrophy, cramp, and even maimed. Also, remember that back pain reveals serval diseases such as disc herniation, scoliosis, kidney stones or osteoporosis.
As a result, you should know how to relieve back pain and how to prevent it as well. Once you have any symptoms of back pain, you should go to medical facilities for examination and timely treatment.
When to Call a Doctor
You should contact immediately with your doctor or professional when:
- Back pain doesn’t have the sign of stop, last over a week.
- Intense back pain causes difficulty for you when doing normal daily activities.
- Back pain in conjunction with obesity, kidney problems, scoliosis or osteoporosis.
- Back pain triggers serious trauma.
How to Prevent Back Pain
Correct your Posture
No matter what you are doing, make sure your body is always in a right posture throughout the day. If you spend most the time to sit, remain your spine naturally straight. Also, choose soft seats to support your back. If you do the heavy manual work that requires a lot of effort, split the weight for the whole body. As performing heavy lifting movements, make sure your back is always upright. If the job needs you stand for a long period, hang a foot taller and constantly changing positions.
Take a Break
Proper posture when sitting for a long time might not be enough for a risk-free of back pain. It will be better if you set a clock on your PC, and each 60 minute, get up for a couple of minutes to extend and stroll around. Refresh your body and mind with gentle movements such as rotation, dorsiflexion, massage, etc. As you sit down, ensure you’re getting into a supported fulcrum of your chair with a neutral spine.
Note when Wearing High Heel Shoes
High heel shoes help women look taller and add more grace. However, if you choose the wrong size shoes, not soft enough for the foot, you will be prone to muscle pain at lumbar spine region. Moreover, unexpected traumas can cause nerve compressions. The most important thing is to learn to walk properly: relax the knees and shake the hips regularly.
Sleeping flat on your back is the best position. However, if you prefer to sleep sideways on your stomach, you should insert a soft pillow or pillow under your lower abs to take the worry off your back. Having a supportive mattress for your head is, of course, important as well.
As I said before, smoking increases your risk for spinal degeneration and blood vessels shrink leading to reducing the oxygen and nutrients reaching the backbone. That’s not mentioned to lung cancers as well as dozens of lethal diseases. Thus, stopping smoking is good all the way.
Strong bones and healthy body are both the keys. A good eating habit and nutrient diet are the what you have to meet. Keep your bones robust by consuming food with the high proportion of protein (lean meats, milk, fish), calcium (yogurt, seafood, vitamin supplements), vitamin D (fatty fish, beef liver, cheese), and vegetable. Also, avoid fast and boxed food.
Do Back Pain Exercises
Almost all the physical issues can be cured by performing exercises, and back pain is not an exception. It’s the best method of back pain home remedies, which helps your muscle relief, ease inflammation as well as muscular tension. As you improve your health with physical fitness, you also help to keep your joints fluid and reduce your extra fat.
I suggest some potent back pain exercises for you:
- Sit cross-legged or sit on your knees. Just make sure that you’re comfortable so that you can lengthen your spine nice and tall. Bring your hands right on top of your knees.
- Start with a little cat and cow action. First, inhale. Then, reach your heart forward, broaden your collarbones, squeeze your shoulder blades together on your back and arch your back. You can look up.
- After exhaling, round your spine, tuck your chin into your chest, rock back on your sacrum and stretch your spine.
- Repeat 5 times and finish.
- First, bring your left hand onto the floor beside you. Then, sweep your right arm up and over to stretch the right side of your body and reach your right fingertips far away. At the same time, root down through the right side of your hip.
- Inhale and come all the way back to the center.
- Repeat the movement for the right hand.
- Bring your right hand across to your left knee. Reach your left fingertips behind you. Sit up nice and tall so that you lengthen your spine.
- As you’re ready, twist to the left. Then, turn your gaze all the way over your left shoulder, so your neck is still a part of this twist.
- Remain your body for 10 seconds. Then, gently come back to the center.
- Repeat the movement for the left hand.
- Go ahead and plant your hands on the floor. Roll forwards so that you come onto your knees. Bring your knees stacking directly underneath your hips. Then, check that your shoulders come right above your wrists so that you’ve got some nice strong angles.
- Press your hand firmly on the floor. Inhale, reach your heart forward, broaden your collarbones, squeeze your shoulder blades together on your back and arch your back.
- Then exhale, round your spine, tuck your tailbone, tuck your chin to your chest, press down through the floor.
- Repeat 5 times and finish.
Here is the video illustrating all the above exercise and some others as well. Just note that they can be used for treatment, not only prevention.
To see more exercises, check a look at here:
Different Kinds of Back Pain
Lower Back Pain – Upper Back Pain
They’re the most common forms of back pain. Upper back pain is the feeling of pain in the chest spine; sometimes the disease spreads to the shoulders, blades, and arms. On the other hand, lower back pain causes aches at the lumbar region, buttocks, thighs, then runs down to the leg. If it’s not treated in time, it can make patients difficult in walking, gradually can cause permanent paralysis, which is extremely serious and affects the daily life of the patient.
Left Back Pain – Right Back Pain
You feel pain in the left or right side of your back. The disease might be accompanied by pain in the left or right foot, which is usually due to herniated disk – the disc between two vertebrae biased out because of hard work, accidents or strenuous exercises for a long time. The asked disc inserts spinal canal and nerve roots. Depending on the position of the eccentric disc, pain manifestations will be different. In particular, disc inserted into the left nerve causes left back pain, and vice versa, disc inserted into the right nerve causes right back pain and might run down to the right leg.
Difference Between Acute Back Pain and Chronic Back Pain
Whether what kind and where your back pain come from, it’s classified into two major groups: Acute back pain and chronic back pain based on the period of pain no. Both upper and lower back pains can be seen as one of them. With any form of back pain, preventing them is the best way to maintain long-term health.
Acute back pain is the medical condition in its early stages. The aches and pains suddenly occur to disturb the patients, and they will go after a few days or longer as a week. In this stage, it’s often very easy to treat the disease. Most acute back pains are the result of a back injury such as falling and slipping or some other illness such as arthritis. The symptoms vary from slight to severe, which limit the flexibility and mobility of patients.
On the other hand, chronic back pain is a medical condition that repeats many times and lasts for more than three months. The acute back pain without treatment will become the chronic back pain. Chronic back pain is often progressive in characteristic, meaning that it will be more serious over time. It would be very difficult to cure, so patients should pay attention to detect the disease as early as possible.
How to Relieve Back Pain
Back Pain Medicine
For a temporary pain cut-off, patients commonly use back pain relievers such as acetaminophen, counterirritants, salicylates, capsaicin, ibuprofen or naproxen. In general, pain relievers come in three forms: oral, topical, and injection.
Oral nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can be in the form of pills, capsules or softgels and are taken by mouth. They work well but might contain potential risks and side effects; thus, only use them when included in the prescription.
Topical relievers are applied to the skin and effective in relieve local pains at specific parts. They’re available in three forms: back pain relief cream, gels, and rubs. Among them, rubs are preferred the most since they’re quick in use and vary in different size to fit different areas.
In a very different way, injection medication needs to be injected directly to the source of the pain, which can be stimulating nerves. This method is commonly used the two ways above do not help. A treatment schedule will be planned.
Again! Exercises are not only for treatment but also for prevention. You can practice based on various videos on YouTube or hire a physiotherapist. He/she is professional and know exactly how to choose and perform specialized exercises, including stretching exercises, strength exercises, cardio (good for cardiovascular fitness), etc. They not only reinforce your core muscles but also support your back. Once your strength, durability, and flexibility are improved, your back pain will diminish.
Massage is another efficient back pain cure method. It’s a simple method that patients can do at home by putting pressure on your muscles and tissues around the back. You only need to spend about 15 minutes to self-massage on sore areas to water down the pain quickly. The easiest way is to cross your hands into the opposite shoulder and gently massage. For a better result and easy way, ask someone for a back pain help.
Many studies found that massage can help reduce chronic back pain. After 10 weeks, people having daily massage feel less painful and have the ability to perform everyday activities better than those who have only traditional care. This is true of any type of massage, and the benefits can last for at least six months.
In addition to hand-on massage, there is another kind of massage which is called cupping massage. With this method, specialists use small cups heated by fire and press them one by one onto the skin to suck and raise the muscle tissue in the back. Some experts use the vacuum principle; in particular, they put cups on the body, then suck out the air by a pump and afterward move the cups around and perform massage.
Acupuncture & Acupressure
Acupuncture is an ancient therapy without back pain relief medicine, originated from China thousands of years ago. It uses small needles to puncture in some parts of the body to stimulate and control the flow of energy flowing through the body. With this principle, acupuncture is mainly applied to address pain. Back pain relief using acupuncture brings into play for that reason.
Many patients are surprised because they think needles are only punctured to the back and adjacent areas, but in fact, they’re applied to other parts such as legs, back, neck, etc. That’s because the energy flowing from other parts of the body contribute a strong impact on back pain.
Back Pain Ice and Heat
Ice is commonly used in to deal with inflamed injuries, but it’s also effective in reducing the pains. Attempt this few times each day for about 15 minutes. Instead of applying it directly on the pain area, which can damage your skin, wrap the ice pack in a thin towel. Following a couple of days, then change to heat. A back pain heating pad will be used to relax your muscles as well as promote blood streaming to the influenced area. Bathing with warm water is also a good idea.
A device called Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) is used in this method. It acts like massage, but it’s completely automatic. More important, this device is extremely powerful, which is not only used to reduce a variety of painful conditions and muscle soreness but also help to relax your body and increased circulation with comfortable and adjustable electrical impulse. It’s also easy to use; simply stick the panels onto any part of your body, and you’ll have one of the best back pain home remedies.
Surgical treatment is rarely used, and only done for severe bone and joint disease affecting the movement of patients. When the level of your back pain has lasted serious, you cannot stand up for moving or doing any normal work; the only way is surgery. Depending on the cause of back pain, disc herniation, spine degeneration, spondylitis, etc., doctors will have different surgeries to rehabilitate the back function.
Read more: 5 Best Treatments For Back Pain And Back Pain Relief Products