Back pain is a complaint that affects many people, especially young and older adults. The back comprises the area of the lumbar spine between the base of the ribs and the hips. The pain is usually harmless and goes away after a few days or weeks without treatment. However, back pain can occur over and over again or become chronic and persist for several months.
Back pain is also called low back pain or lumbago. Pain affects everyone at some point in life it is one of the most frequent painful reasons for consultation. Around 85% of the population, that is, around 8 out of 10 people, are affected at least once in their lives.
Types of Back Pain
As for back pain, there are 2 main types:
Nonspecific back pain
It is the most common. There is no indication of a specific cause to treat. This means that the back muscles are undergoing excessive contraction and tension at the moment. However, the functional disorders associated with this do not correspond to a specific disease to be treated, as long as the diagnosis "non-specific" is applied, no specific damage to the spine or any other back-related disease or pain can be detected. radiating to the back can be identified.
Specific back pain
It can be triggered by back problems themselves or other conditions that involve the back. Not all experts are always happy with the division into "non-specific" and "specific". However, it helps to solve the multitude of back pain and is used frequently.
The evolution of back pain over time:
Acute back pain
It appears (for the first time or again after at least 6 months without pain) and has a maximum duration of 6 weeks.
Subacute back pain
It is an acute to chronic pain condition: Back pain has been plaguing sufferers for more than six weeks, but less than twelve weeks.
Chronic back pain
Pain that does not go away in 12 weeks is at risk of becoming chronic. Back and lumbar pain lasting more than 3 (up to 6 months; there are different definitions) is called chronic.
Frequency: There are many forms of back pain, from a single episode (acute) to recurrent phases and persistent chronic pain.
Characteristics: Back pain can be barely noticeable, of moderate or variable intensity, even downright unbearable. Doctors have patients rate this using a pain scale or questionnaire, if necessary.
The location of the pain is also important!
Lower back (lumbar spine area)
Back pain most often affects the lower part, which is also the part that is subjected to the most stress. Here, for example, muscle strain, tissue disorders, fascia, and herniated discs often occur. Sometimes inflammatory changes also occur, especially in the pelvic area.
Mid-spine back pain can also be triggered by muscle irritation, changes in the costovertebral joints, and skeletal deformities such as scoliosis, particularly in the thoracic spine.
This affects the upper thoracic spine and the cervical spine. Pain in the neck region is often caused by an unfavorable posture when working. Muscle tension and hardening occur. Possible, although less common, is the inflammatory reflex of the cervical spine with a herniated disc.
What are the causes and risk factors?
The following points play a role in the development of nonspecific back pain:
Lack of exercise
The lack of elasticity and muscle weakness is an organic response to lack of training, the less used muscle groups weaken and become inefficient when it comes to supporting loads such as your weight or when you lift very heavy objects.
The back is subject to natural wear. Over time, the intervertebral discs lose their elasticity and flatten. As a result, the spine loses height with age and you end up in a stooped posture. Spinal joints also wear out more with increasing age. Both processes can cause pain.
Repeated physical overload or exertion with incorrect posture, for example, when lifting heavy objects, can accelerate wear and tear and trigger acute back pain. Sitting for long periods, poor posture, and poorly trained muscles all contribute to the muscles of the trunk and back not being able to adequately support and support the spine. This unilateral strain can lead to muscle overload and painful tension.
Mental conditions are also reflected on a physical level, especially in the muscular system, continuous stress, and diseases such as depression and anxiety cause continuous muscle tension., especially in chronic back pain.
In the case of specific back pain, a disease can be diagnosed as the cause. The following diseases can cause back pain:
Rheumatic or inflammatory diseases: Osteoarthritis, spondylitis.
Diseases or injuries of the spine: Fractures of vertebral bodies due to accident or osteoporosis.
Sometimes non-specific and specific back pain cannot be differentiated. This applies in particular to degenerative changes in the spine. Other manifestations associated with back pain are sciatica.
What symptoms can you have?
Back pain is often accompanied by other discomforts. Individual complaints and perceived restrictions vary.
Sudden sharp pain or muscle aches
Trouble straightening up
Lower back pain is usually associated with muscle tension. This can also lead to restricted mobility. With lumbago, the pain in the lower back comes on very suddenly. This usually happens through a specific movement and without previous complaints.
If the pain radiates from the back to the legs, it is called lumbosciatica. This usually leads to irritation of the nerve roots that run from the lumbar spine to the sciatic nerve.
How to prevent back pain?
The most important thing is to stay active. This scientifically proven principle helps prevent back pain. Existing back problems can also be relieved.
Exercise and sports against back pain
Regular exercise should be in addition to resistance training, such as taking a walk or run, including strength and flexibility exercises. It is best to choose a sport that you really enjoy and that fits well into your everyday life. Experts recommend the following sports to prevent back pain:
Strengthen your back
Strong back muscles support and relieve the spine. Special training consists, for example, of exercises to strengthen and stabilize the muscles. Training is also called back school. Even if you already have back pain and it keeps coming back, back training helps reduce the frequency of pain phases.
Avoid unilateral charges
Sitting for long periods, poor sitting posture, or monotonous, repetitive movements at work put pressure on your back. Make sure to take regular breaks and balance movements that relax you.
Avoid being overweight
Being overweight puts a lot of pressure on your spine, and losing weight also helps prevent or relieve back pain.
How can back pain be treated?
There are several treatment options for non-specific back pain: non-pharmacological measures and medications.
Acute, nonspecific back pain usually goes away on its own, but it subsides more quickly if you keep moving as much as possible and go about your normal daily activities. Physical activity also prevents the progression of chronic diseases. light physical activity alone can provide great benefits, among the activities you can do is walking, light jogging. Bed rest and prolonged sitting should be avoided.
In the case of severe acute pain, the so-called staggered position can provide relief: the lower legs are placed so high that there is a 90-degree angle with the thighs.
Back heat treatments can relieve acute back pain. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatories may help reduce pain. However, these should only be taken for a short time and after a medical review. If acute back pain has not improved after about 5 weeks, the risk of chronic back pain increases.
In the case of non-specific chronic back pain, the doctor may suggest combining various therapies and measures. In addition to medical care, people with chronic pain often need psychological and social support. A doctor needs to observe the course of chronic pain. In this way, it can recognize indications of other causes in time and adjust the treatment. For specific back pain with a specific cause, treatment depends on the diagnosed condition.
Nonpharmacologic therapies for nonspecific back pain include:
Manual therapy and mobilization: It has an analgesic effect and improves mobility. The therapist performs slow, directed movements.
Heat treatment: Alone and in combination with range-of-motion exercises, heat can improve short-term pain and limited mobility. For example, hot water bottles, thermal cushions, thermal band-aids are used.
More options for your back pain
Back pain can be disabling and limit the development of your daily life, however, no one is exempt from suffering from it, because of this, the ideal is to prevent it, and when this is not possible, you must solve it in the best possible way to avoid consequences.
Back Restoration is a program focused on preventing and treating back pain. It includes effective diagnosis, movement exercises, theoretical knowledge of movement sequences for the back in everyday life, muscle relaxation techniques.
Chronic pain rehabilitation
Chronic back pain can lead to job restrictions and longer sick leave. In this case, outpatient or inpatient rehabilitation can be requested.