What is Causing Your Back Pain?

What is causing your back pain? Just about everyone can agree; when your back hurts, your world seems to come to a screeching halt. It affects everything that you do from that point on. You can put a broken arm in a sling, but you can’t put your back in a sling and continue with your day.

Back Strain = Back Pain

Let’s begin with the simplest form of back pain. That would be back strain. This occurs when you strain the muscles that support the spine in the back.

What does it feel like? Think of a ” charley horse” in your leg. The muscle knots up because it was stretched the wrong way or over extended. The pain is immediate and continues until you can work out the kinks.

With back strain, you have essentially done the same thing. That muscle is out of sorts and needs to relax and heal. Let’s consider what could be the cause of your back strain:

  • Sudden jerky movements
  • Improper lifting posture
  • Poor sitting posture (slouching or hunching over)
  • Injury
  • Obesity
  • Stress
  • Shoes that are wearing unevenly
  • Dehydration (your back needs water too)

When the muscles of the back are constantly strained, strengthening them may be the key to helping with back strain and inevitable pain.

Herniated Disc = Back Injury

However, back pain can also be the result of a structural problem. This occurs when an injury to the back involves the vertebrae, nerves, and discs. This injury may be a trauma to the back, known as ” an acute” injury, or an injury over time, known as ” a chronic” injury. One of the most common injuries involves the discs.

The discs are located between the vertebrae of the back. They serve to cushion the nerves and the bones. When a disc is herniated, the inner spongy matter squeezes out through the outer layer. This puts pressure on the root of the nerve that arises from that spot on the spinal cord. Usually, herniated discs are found in the lumbar region of the spinal column which corresponds to the lower back.

Herniated discs can be the result of an acute injury, a chronic injury such as a repeated motion that wears down the disc over time, or as a result of what is known as degenerative disc disease.

The worn disc spills its spongy material out and the disc ” herniates.” The material can begin to rub against nerves causing further pain.

Typically with this type of injury, what you will notice is pain in the hips and down the legs, commonly known as sciatica. Those nerves are pinched and can cause a loss of feeling in the legs from time to time. Your leg could have the sensation of ” giving out” which is disconcerting as you are actually unable to move your leg for a time.

Anytime you experience unexplained pain in your back or down your legs, especially repeatedly or over a period of time, you should consult a health professional. The only way to know if your back pain is more than the occasional pain from overuse is to have the proper tests. Taking a few pain killers to alleviate minor back pain that occurs once in a while may be alright; say, when you rake the yard. But, serious back pain requires serious attention from a doctor. Take care of your back and it will take care of you!



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