Back pain is pain felt in the back that usually originates from the muscles, nerves, bones, joints or other structures in the spine.
Back pain may have a sudden onset or can be a chronic pain; it can be constant or intermittent, stay in one place or radiate to other areas. It may be a dull ache, or a sharp or piercing or burning sensation. The pain may radiate into the arms and hands as well as the legs or feet, and may include symptoms other than pain, such as weakness, numbness or tingling.
Roughly 70 to 85 percent of people have experienced back pain at some point in their lives. Many cases of lower back pain are the result of a muscle strain. Such back pain generally heals quickly in a few weeks or months.
Back pain is one of humanity’s most frequent complaints. In the U.S., acute low back pain (also called lumbago) is the fifth most common reason for physician visits. About nine out of ten adults experience back pain at some point in their life, and five out of ten working adults have back pain every year.
The spine is a complex interconnecting network of nerves, joints, muscles, tendons and ligaments, and all are capable of producing pain. Large nerves that originate in the spine and go to the legs and arms can make pain radiate to the extremities.
Back pain that lasts longer than three months is referred to as chronic back pain and may be indicative of an underlying condition like a herniated disc, spinal stenosis and degenerative disc disease.
Symptoms of back pain may include: Muscle ache, Shooting or stabbing pain, Pain that radiates down your leg, Limited flexibility or range of motion of your back, Inability to stand straight. Back pain is most commonly felt as soreness, tension or stiffness in the lower back but it can also be felt in the neck, shoulders, buttocks and thighs.
Symptoms in the low back can be a result of problems in the bony lumbar spine, discs between the vertebrae, ligaments around the spine and discs, spinal cord and nerves, muscles of the low back, internal organs of the pelvis and abdomen, and the skin covering the lumbar area. Pains in the upper back can also be a result of disorders of the aorta, chest tumors, and inflammation of spine.
About 50% of women experience low back pain during pregnancy. Often it begins in the second half of pregnancy as changes in your body weight and center of gravity put added strain on your spine. Back pain in pregnancy may be severe enough to cause significant pain and disability and pre-dispose patients to back pain in a following pregnancy. No significant increased risk of back pain with pregnancy has been found with respect to maternal weight gain, exercise, work satisfaction, or pregnancy outcome factors such as birth weight, birth length, and Apgar scores.
Biomechanical factors of pregnancy that are shown to be associated with low back pain of pregnancy include abdominal sagittal and transverse diameter and the depth of lumbar lordosis. Typical factors aggravating the back pain of pregnancy include standing, sitting, forward bending, lifting, and walking. Back pain in pregnancy may also be characterized by pain radiating into the thigh and buttocks, night-time pain severe enough to wake the patient, pain that is increased during the night-time, or pain that is increased during the day-time. The avoidance of high impact, weight-bearing activities and especially those that asymmetrically load the involved structures such as: extensive twisting with lifting, single-leg stance postures, stair climbing, and repetitive motions at or near the end-ranges of back or hip motion can ease the pain. Direct bending to the ground without bending the knee causes severe impact on the lower back in pregnancy and in normal individuals, which leads to strain, especially in the lumbo-saccral region that in turn strains the multifidus.
At ABC Physical Therapy we provide some regular exercises or physical therapy which will strengthen muscles and increase flexibility, relieving the added stress of pregnancy on your spine. To prevent back pain during pregnanacy can consider these ways : Practice good posture, Get the right gear, Lift properly, Sleep on your side, Try heat, cold or massage, Include physical activity in your daily routine Consider complementary therapies
Physical therapy with a trained professional may be useful if pain has not improved after 3 – 4 weeks. It is important for any person who has chronic low back pain to have an exercise program or physical therapy. AT ABC Physical Therapy, professionals who understand the limitations and special needs of back pain, and can address individual health conditions. Physical therapy typically includes the following:
- Education and training the patient in correct movement.
- Exercises to help the patient keep the spine in neutral positions during all daily activities.
Specific and regular exercise under the guidance of a trained physical therapist is important for reducing pain and improving function, although patients often find it difficult to maintain therapy. There are different types of back pain exercises. Stretching exercises work best for reducing pain, while strengthening exercises are best for improving function.