Chronic back pain impacts millions of people across the globe. It’s something that many people choose to ignore until it reaches a severity that negatively impacts their life and reduces their ability to move.
Back pain can range from mild to severe and, despite common belief, can impact people of all ages. In fact, back pain now affects more young people than ever before, most likely due to the modern-day lifestyle.
Understanding the common causes of back pain will enable you to identify the reason you’re dealing with this issue. It also enables you to follow the best management and prevention plan going forward.
Here are some back pain red flags to look out for and the most common reasons why back pain appears.
Many pregnant women can experience aches and pains in their lower back, particularly as they enter the latter weeks of their pregnancy. The expansion of the uterus to accommodate the growing fetus can compress the spine and cause dull, chronic pain.
There are a few different things that can reduce back pain in pregnancy and prevent back pain as a new mom, including heat packs, good posture, proper lifting, and adequate rest. Pain-relieving medications may be appropriate but it’s important to speak to your doctor before taking any medications if you are pregnant, as some are contraindicated during pregnancy.
If you accidentally move too quickly, you can cause excess strain on the muscles in the back. This is often referred to as ‘pulling a muscle’, and it’s caused by the muscle being overworked or overstretched.
Often, a pulled muscle occurs due to improper lifting or sudden movement. However, you can also pull a muscle gradually with poor posture. You’ll experience a localized aching or throbbing sensation if you’ve pulled a muscle, and it should resolve by itself within a week or two.
A herniated disc, informally known as a slipped disc, occurs when the soft discs between the vertebral bones bulge or rupture. This can occur due to an injury or degeneration of the vertebrae, leading to stiffness and intense pain that radiates down the sciatic nerve of the leg (sciatica).
Spinal stenosis is the medical name for the narrowing of the spinal canal. It causes the nerves within the spinal cord, leading to radiating pain, numbness, and weakness in the back, buttocks, and lower limbs.
The most common cause of spinal stenosis is the development of calcium deposits within the spine. Older adults are more at risk of spinal stenosis than younger adults and children.
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition caused by wear and tear of the joints and cartilage in the spine. It more commonly affects older adults, although some younger individuals can suffer from it. It occurs over time and leads to inflammation, pain, stiffness, and reduced spinal mobility.
The treatment for osteoarthritis includes positive lifestyle changes, such as regular exercise, pain-relieving medications, steroid injections, and physical therapy exercises. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to improve function and relieve pain.