Back pain is a common condition that can affect people of all ages and can range from mild to severe. It can be described as any type of discomfort or pain felt in the back, from the neck down to the hips. Back pain can be acute, which means it lasts for a short period, or chronic, which lasts for more than three months.
Back pain can be caused by a variety of factors, including:
- Muscle or ligament strain: This is the most common cause of back pain, often caused by lifting heavy objects improperly or sudden awkward movements.
- Herniated or bulging discs: Discs act as cushions between the vertebrae and can bulge or herniate, causing pressure on the nerves and resulting in pain.
- Spinal stenosis, which is spinal canal narrowing that puts pressure on the nerves, causing pain.
- Osteoarthritis: A condition where the cartilage that cushions the joints wears down, leading to inflammation and pain.
- Scoliosis: An abnormal curvature of the spine that can cause pain, stiffness, and difficulty moving.
- Infections, inflammation, and tumours: These are rare causes of back pain but can occur and may require medical/surgical treatment.
- Poor posture: Slouching, hunching over a computer, or standing or sitting for long periods in a bad position can cause strain on the back muscles and result in pain.
- Other causes: Kidney stones and infections, endometriosis, and fibromyalgia.
Other risk factors for developing back pain include age, obesity, lack of exercise, and smoking. It's important to consult a healthcare professional to determine the back pain's the underlying cause and receive appropriate treatment.
Back pain symptoms can vary depending on the underlying cause but may include dull or sharp pain, muscle stiffness or spasms, limited range of motion, and difficulty standing or sitting.
Treatment for back pain
Most back pain gets better within a few weeks without treatment. Bed rest isn't recommended. Over-the-counter pain medications often help reduce back pain. So might apply cold or heat to the painful area.
Other treatments like physical therapy, exercise, and early return to work are recommended.
Surgery may be needed if the pain does not resolve, depending on the cause.
It's important to seek urgent medical attention if you experience severe or persistent back pain or if it is accompanied by other symptoms such as numbness, tingling, or weakness in the legs, accompanied by fever or causes new bowel or bladder control problems.
Learn more about managing and understanding back-related conditions:
Also, explore more related spinal conditions:
Coccyx Pain: Delve deeper into the discomfort associated with tailbone injuries and its impact on daily life.
Sacroiliac Joint Pain: Explore the causes and management strategies for pain in the sacroiliac joint.
Neck Pain: Explore common causes, symptoms, and management strategies for persistent neck pain.
Leg Pain (Sciatica): Understand the origins and symptoms of leg pain associated with sciatic nerve irritation.