Back pain is a discomfort that may or may not be continuous over time and which can be located between the upper part of the lumbar region and the legs. Back pain is the second most common ailment among people, second only to the common cold.
In fact, it is estimated that about eight out of ten people will suffer from it in their lifetime, a fact which makes its prevalence evident. Back pain is associated with many diseases that can lead to serious problems.
Low back pain is the most common pathology in back pain.
Back pain prognosis
Back pain is a very common problem among people, as it is estimated that 80% of the population will suffer from it at some point in their lifetime. Such pain is associated with more than 60 diseases, some of which can lead to serious problems, such as disabilities.
Low back pain is the most frequent problem when it comes to back pain, although in this case the prognosis is quite good, since half of those suffering from it improve after two weeks and for nine out of ten people affected this type of episodes resolve completely within eight to nine weeks.
Symptoms of back pain
The symptomatology of back pain can manifest itself in different ways, while its intensity can vary between mild and intense and, depending on the level, can seriously affect the mobility of the affected person.
The most common signs of back pain are as follows:
- Throbbing pain
- Muscle discomfort
- Pain that radiates to the leg
- Intense pain
These signs may themselves be accompanied by a combination of the following symptoms:
- Localized area that responds with pain to touch
- Muscle spasms
- Pain that travels from the groin but does not go below the knee
- Difficulty moving
- Difficulty standing up
Back pain diagnosis
Diagnosing a back pain problem is not always a quick process, as the specialist must gradually rule out the possible causes and carry out tests to confirm the diagnosis.
While diagnosing the problem, the specialist will ask the patient a few questions about how the pain started, etc. Physical and neurological examinations will then be performed.
During the physical examination, the doctor will look at the patient’s posture, physical condition, range of motion, and which movements cause pain. The neurological exam will evaluate reflexes, muscle strength, and extent of pain.
Various diagnostic tests can also be performed, including x- rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT), blood tests, bone scans, electromyography to study the nerves, etc.
Bone studies, discograms and myelograms, may also be done to confirm the state of the bones, respectively of the disks and spinal cord.
What are the causes of back pain?
The onset of back pain can have different causes. The presence of muscle spasms can cause low back pain; a herniated disc or a fracture in the spine can be the cause of lower back pain. On the other hand, sciatica is another of the most frequent pains that appear in the lower back and travels the sciatic nerve through the buttock.
Most neck pain appears as a result of muscle inflammation or joint dysfunction. Weakness, overexertion, sports injuries, or accidents can cause muscle inflammation.
Another frequent cause of pain is osteoarthritis, bone irregularities, and possible back abnormalities, such as curvature of the spine or scoliosis.
At the same time, it should be noted that almost all daily activities can lead to back pain, both suddenly and over time.
Some of the activities that cause back pain are:
- Bend over sharply
- Carrying, lifting, pushing or pulling an object incorrectly
- Sitting in the wrong position
- Standing or bending over for a long time without interruption
- Turn around
- Excessively prolonged stretching
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Can it be prevented?
Most people will experience back pain in their lifetime and, therefore, prevention of the condition is not always possible. In fact, as aging progresses, it is the spine itself that wears out. However, there are a few ways to try to avoid this:
- Follow a healthy and balanced diet
- Exercise regularly
- Avoid tobacco consumption
- Maintain correct postures
- Support your back when sitting
Treatments for back pain
Most back problems get better soon after starting treatment. The use of ice and heat, depending on the specialist’s recommendations, may be sufficient.
Indeed, in case of back pain it is not advisable to rest. Instead, the patient should try to continue carrying out their daily activities as long as the pain is tolerable.
Physiotherapy appears to be essential for the treatment of back pain. The specialist can use different treatments, such as muscle relaxation techniques or exercises to strengthen the muscles, as well as heat, cold, ultrasound, electrical stimulation, etc.
Sometimes the only treatment available is surgery, which is usually reserved for cases of spinal stenosis or a herniated disc that has not responded to other therapies.
Which specialist to contact?
There are several specialists who can take care of back pain. For example the traumatologist, who is the bone specialist, and the rheumatologist, who is the joint specialist. As far as treatment is concerned, pain management specialists can be of great help, as can physical rehabilitation therapists, physiotherapists, osteopaths, ozone therapy specialists and acupuncturists .