Having a backache is one of the most common complaints heard by doctors. Pain anywhere on the back from below the neck to just above the buttocks is termed as back pain. A backache can be caused by a number of factors. The seriousness of back pain depends on the factors triggering this pain.
Back pain can affect people of all ages but is more commonly experienced by those between the ages of 35 and 55 years. A sedentary lifestyle, stress, anxiety, obesity and pregnancy are some conditions that can increase the risk of suffering from back pain. Some of the common causes of back pain are:
- Strain: Strained muscles or ligaments are the most common triggers for a back ache. This is a common occurrence that happens while trying to lift a heavy weight improperly or as a result of an abrupt movement. A muscle spasm can also cause a back ache.
- Structural problems: Backaches can also be caused by structural problems with the spinal column and musculoskeletal system. The rupturing or inflammation of spinal discs that cushion each vertebra of the spinal column are common structural problems that cause back pain. Back pain known as sciatica pain is also caused by structural problems like an inflamed or herniated disc that presses on a nerve.
- Musculoskeletal conditions: Osteoporosis and arthritis are other musculoskeletal conditions that may cause back pain.
A thorough physical examination is the first step to diagnosing the cause of back pain. If the pain persists for a long duration, tests such as MRI or CT scans, X-rays, EMGs or bone scans may be advised. This will help the doctor understand the cause of the back pain and treat it accordingly.
Treatment for a back ache depends on the factors triggering it, how long the pain persists and the intensity of the pain. Rest is usually advised along with posture exercises, heat therapy and other simple exercises to improve flexibility and tone the back muscles. Over the counter painkillers can provide temporary relief for intense back pain.
In some cases, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may also be needed. Surgery is usually the last resort for back pain and is considered only in cases where severe structural problems that do not respond to medications are the cause of the pain. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can ask a free question.