Backache is characterized by physical discomfort occurring anywhere on the spine or back. It is so common that most people will suffer one or more episodes of backache during their lives. It is estimated that about 7.5% of the global population suffers from low backache at a given time.
What is causing your backache?
Backache can result from many health conditions ranging from age, obesity, and diseases to even psychological conditions and smoking.
Major factors leading to backache can be:
Strain: A common cause of backache is an injury like a pulled muscle. Heavy lifting or sudden jerk moments can strain back muscles and spinal ligaments.
Repetitive movement: Backache can develop because of constant strenuous moves causing tears in the tissues. When the body is unable to repair the tears in the tissues as fast as they are being made, it causes pain.
Medical conditions: Various medical conditions like a slipped disc, sciatica (a trapped nerve), or spondylitis can cause backache. Arthritis. Osteoarthritis can affect the lower back.
Poor posture: Sitting hunched over for extended periods or sleeping in an uncomfortable position can stress the spine and lead to backache.
Osteoporosis: The spine’s vertebrae can develop painful breaks if the bones become porous and brittle and cause backache.
Disc degeneration: As we age, our discs can wear down and cause backache.
Smoking: Smoking can also decrease blood flow to the spine and increase the risk of osteoporosis and thus, can cause backache.
11 truths about backaches
According to the State of Musculoskeletal Health Report, in 2021,10 million people have backache in the UK.
Appropriate exercise and stretching can help alleviate low backache and discomfort.
Height is an increased risk of getting backache. The tallest males (average height, 6 feet) were 44 percent more likely to have low backaches than the shortest males (average height, 5 feet 5 inches).
20.3 million people have musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions such as arthritis or backache in the UK. Almost one-third (32%) of the population.
Women, those over 30, and people who are classed as obese are at a greater risk of developing low backache.
According to an in-depth analysis published in the Global Burden of Disease Study, backache was the leading cause of disability worldwide and prevents people from working and doing everyday simple activities.
People over 30 and those who are obese or carry extra weight are more likely to suffer from low backache.
8 in 10 pregnant women state that low backache impacts their daily routine, with 1 in 10 being unable to work.
In 90 percent of all cases of backache, the pain gets better without surgery. Therefore, surgery is rarely an option for low backache.
Gym, work, and sports can also lead to lower backache when the muscles are underdeveloped.
Obese males were 16 percent more likely to have low backache; for females, it was 21 percent.
How to get relief from your backache?
Acute backache: Generally, acute backache gets better on its own, but to get relief, the following can be done:
Group exercise sessions and physiotherapy.
Manual therapy – where a trained therapist massages and moves the muscles, bones, and joints in your back.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) helps you cope with the pain.
Thermotherapy involves applying heat or ice may help ease pain, reduce inflammation, and improve mobility for some people. Hot or cold packs can be used.
Keeping a good posture helps ease the pressure on your lower back. Support braces can help improve and maintain good posture.
Gentle stretching as advised by a healthcare professional may help.
Medications for instant relief can be taken as prescribed.
Chronic backache is most often treated with a stepped-care approach including medications, acupuncture,nerve stimulation,spinal injections, surgery, etc.
When to see a doctor about your backache?
See a GP if:
Backache does not improve after treating it at home for a few weeks.
The pain is stopping you from doing your day-to-day activities.
The pain is severe or getting worse over time.
You’re worried about the pain or you’re struggling to cope.
The pain does not improve after resting or is worse at night.
Today’s sedentary lifestyle has given birth to a lot of musculoskeletal problems. Backache is a common ailment, and the older you get, the more likely you may experience it. The good news is that you can take steps to prevent back ache. A consistent exercise routine can help strengthen your back and core muscles and more resilient. A nutritious balanced diet fuels the body and keeps the health problems at bay.
Q. Does backache run in families? A: No. Backache is caused by many different factors that are not generally hereditary.
Q. Will bed rest make my low backache better? A: No. Over time bed rest makes the problem of backache worse and can make it last for a longer time. You can just alter your activities and avoid things that increase pain.
Q. Is surgery required to treat low backache? A: No. Surgery is not required for most cases of acute low backache. Treatment options other than surgery have proven to be effective.