Dr. Faozat Aragbaye
Back pain includes lower back pain, middle back pain, upper back pain or low back pain with sciatica.
Back pain often develops without a cause. Conditions commonly linked to back pain include:
- Muscle or ligament strain. Repeated heavy lifting or sudden awkward movement can strain back muscles and spinal ligaments
- Bulging or ruptured disks. Disks act as cushions between the bones in the spine. A bulging and ruptured disk can exist without back pain
- Arthritis. Osteoarthritis can affect lower back. In some cases, arthritis of the spine can lead to narrowing of the space around the spinal cord.
- Skeletal irregularities. A condition in which the spine curves to a side (scoliosis) can lead to back pain, but generally not until middle age.
The spine’s vertebrae can develop compression fractures when the bones become porous and brittle.
Anyone can develop back pain, even children and teens. The risk factors include:
- Age, backache is more common among adults, starting from age 30 or 40
- Lack of exercise. Weak, unused muscles in the back and abdomen might lead to back.
- Excess weight. Excess body weight puts extra stress on the back
- Diseases. Some types of arthritis and cancer can contribute to back pain
- Improper lifting. Using the back instead of the legs can lead to back pain
- Psychological conditions. People prone to depression and anxiety tend to have greater risk of back pain
- Smoking. This reduces blood flow to the lower spine, thus preventing the lower disc from getting nutrients from the body.
Signs and symptoms of back pain can include:
- Muscle ache
- Shooting or stabbing pain
- Pain that radiates from the leg
- Pain that worsens with bending, lifting, standing or walking
- Pain that improves with reclining
Diagnosis of a back can be made from medical history, symptoms and physical examination.
Other tests such as, X-ray; MRI or CT scan may be required if;
- Back pain appears to result from injury
- there may be underlying cause that needs treatment
- the pain persists over a long period
Many individuals will not need extensive treatment for back pain. Over- the- counter pain medications are often sufficient.
In more severe cases, stronger treatments may be necessary, but the patients are closely monitored.
The majority of the back pain episodes are relieved by treatment with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as: ibuprofen; naproxen etc.
Pain relievers or analgesics, such as acetaminophen, are also an option, though they don’t have the anti-inflammatory properties.
Other medications include:
Topical rubs and ointments.
These may be highly effective at reducing back pain. Many of these contain ingredients like ibuprofen and lidocaine.
Opioids are stronger pain medication that can be used for more severe pain.
Muscle relaxants can also be used for low back pain, especially if muscle spasm is occurring alongside pain.
Antidepressants and other medications can sometimes be used off label for the treatment of back pain.
For severe pain, steroid injections may also be recommended.
Surgery is the last resort treatment and is rarely done for back pain.
These tips can help in easing back pain or prevent it in the first place. These include:
- Carry less -heavy briefcases, laptop bags, suitcases and purses that can add unnecessary stress and strains on the neck and spine
- Work your core- strengthening the muscles in around the abdomen can reduce chances of pain, strain or damage to the back
- Improve your posture- regularly roll back rounded shoulders and sit upright on the chair
- Change shoes- high- heeled shoes are likely to cause damage to the back if worn frequently. One inch is a maximum height suggestion
Stretch often-stretch regularly to help improve circulation in the fatigued muscles.