“Who ran away from his Nurse, and was eaten by the lion.” Hilaire Belloc
“Ouch, my back is killing me!” Does that sound like something you’ve heard yourself or someone you care about says? Today’s chat is about the structure of the back, signs, and symptoms of a back problem, do’s and don’ts when experiencing pain in your back.
How your back works.
Ever wonder what your back actually consists of? Biology tells us the backbone consists of more than 30 bones called vertebrae. The vertebrae canal guards the small nerves in your spinal cord. Which are held together by muscles, tendons, and ligaments? The disks located between the vertebrae act as shock absorbers when you walk, run to the car across the parking lot or the NYC Triathlon. They also work when you jump away from a snake in the yard or on a trampoline. They also allow your spine to twist, bend and extend to reach that item on the top shelf. Those disks help with so many daily activities for people of all ages. Most of your weight is carried in your lower back; therefore frequently people find their problems affecting this area.
Back pain can be kind of sudden completely onset or can occur over time. Every so often a backache can come and go, be becoming annoying and slightly more painful. Back pain that lasts for a few days to a few weeks is considered acute. Pain that lasts for three months or longer is considered chronic. We avoid going to the doctor when suffering from acute pain because we do not believe the pain is bad enough. But the longer we go without proper medical care for our back pain symptoms, the worse we allow the pain to progress. In reality, we are injuring our back more by ignoring these warning signs. A simple acute ache could turn into something A LOT more serious, something chronic even.
Ouch’s may feel like the following:
- Muscle aching
- Shooting or piercing pain
- Pain that radiates down your leg
- Restricted flexibility or limited range of motion of your back
- Inability to stand straight or for continuous amounts of time
Top 10 Most Frequent Reasons for Backaches:
- Emotional and psychological stress (including some mental illness such as depression) and anxiety can cause backaches due to the tension in your body.
- Bad Posture, Pain due to slouching and bad posture is a very common occurrence. The muscles and ligaments become miss aligned over time and can lead to backaches or even headaches and fatigue.
- Obesity, Added weight on your body places more pressure on your spine. This can lead to osteoarthritis.
- Sleeping Positions, Often times we are unaware of our varied positions of sleep during the night. Doctors recommend either sleeping on your back with a pillow under your knees or on your side with a pillow between your legs.
- Sprains and Strains. You may have just twisted wrong, picked something up wrong or that was too heavy, or you may have fallen or tripped.
- Fractures, Fractures are similar to sprains, except a fracture may also occur in the vertebrae in your back due to injury from sports or falls.
- Osteoarthritis, most commonly found in older adults, is a condition which causes the discs to press together, causing backaches and stiffness in the affected area. This pressing together can lead to another condition known as degenerative joint disease.
- Herniated Discs, When a disc is ruptured, it is often called a herniated, or “slipped disc” which will eventually lead to a pinched nerve. You should seek medical attention for a complete diagnosis.
- Fibromyalgia, Back pain and fatigue are common symptoms of this disorder.
- Pregnancy, the extra weight and the way that weight is distributed usually cause back pain affecting the lower back.
Okay… So now what?
The do’s and don’ts so not to make your pocketbook empty and medical bills piled sky-high.
- Sleep on your side or on your back with pillows under or between knees.
- Take throw pillows to work and in the car for support.
- Use proper bending and lifting techniques.
- Use stepladders for reaching high places and mats for low places rather than bending or stretching too much.
- Apply ice pack if you see swelling.
- Don’t drive or ride in the vehicle for over an hour and a half a day when possible and don’t slouch while driving.
- Don’t sit at a desk or computer short of an hour without stretching and standing.
- Don’t lift without bending your knees. If you think it’s too heavy and you feel pain, STOP!!
- Don’t sleep on your stomach.
- Don’t ignore pain; if you are having discomfort, something IS wrong.
- Don’t let anyone try to pop, or deeply massage your back other than a therapist or doctor.
- Don’t try to work through the pain. STOP! Relax…Take a breather. Try lying down! Don’t overdo it.
- Don’t wear shoes with no support. Ladies, heels are amazing but they are not your back’s friend.
- Don’t be a hero!!! Your back is more important than your pride.
- Don’t put off going to doctor if the pain lasts more than a few days.
Now that you know the do’s and don’ts when having back pain; our next step is to incorporate a strong workout package which includes a healthy diet and simple workout routine that fits our age and lifestyle. If only then after all else failed and the pain does not decrease even a little, maybe just maybe you should follow what my last paragraph suggests…
Doctor, Doctor, I think we need a visit.
Most of the pain may take several weeks to disappear completely; you should notice some improvement within the first 72 hours of self-care. If it does not get better and you choose to consult your physician, most often they prescribe medications as well as specific exercises to increase the strength in your back. Consultor schedule the next available appointment necessary.
“Let’s try and not be eaten by the lion!!!”