Health: A pain in the back

Pain in the back or backache is a troublesome condition which can be bad enough to stop you from working. The causes for backache are many depending on the age and gender of the person.

Pain in the back or backache is a troublesome condition which can be bad enough to stop you from working. The causes for backache are many depending on the age and gender of the person.

In children and young adults, the backbone is very flexible. Only some kind of injury can affect it, causing backache and as soon as healing occurs, the pain is also relieved.

Some unfortunate children may suffer from chronic infections like tuberculosis of the vertebral column causing back pain.

Similar to children, adults also suffer from back pain due to any trauma. The difference being that in adults, complete recovery does not occur.

After receiving any kind of injury, pain tends to persist, being aggravated at times of physical stress or exposure to extreme cold.

This trauma can be any kind of sprain or fracture of the vertebral column. Undue stretching of back muscles can also cause back pain.

This can happen due to undue stretching when trying to put some object at a height greater than one’s own height.
In adults, as the age advances, back bone looses its flexibility and tends to become brittle.

The pain starts because for a long time people use their back as a spring, bending it in whichever direction they want. In fact, the back bone is not meant to be used as a spring.

Chronic stress produced due to this, tends to produce back pain which becomes chronic later on. As age advances, the stiffness increases, also the pain increases. Degenerative changes occur in the spine, in which the joint space is reduced.

The technical name for this is lumbar spondylosis. New tiny bones called osteophytes tend to grow between the joints. This further diminishes the suppleness of the backbone causing backache.

Osteoporosis (demineralization and softening of bones) also sets in with increasing age. This makes all bones of the body including the backbone weak. This also contributes to back pain because any kind of movement on the back tends to produce stress.

Office workers who sit for long hours are at equal risk for spondylosis as manual workers lifting heavy weights. Reason is, when one sits for a long time continuously, force of gravity tends to pull the spine down.

Infections of the bones like osteomyelitis or tuberculosis also cause acute or chronic backache. Pain occurs in the part affected. Infections in the urinary system or pelvic parts are yet another cause of pain in the lower back.

Women being more prone to urinary tract infections are more prone to develop chronic back pain. Cause for backache can be determined very easily by the history and X-ray of the spine. In case of suspected infection, relevant tests help to pin point the infection.

However once chronic backache sets in, there is rarely a cure. Therefore it is better to adopt preventive measures. If one avoids bending from the back, it keeps away stress   from the spine and thus chronic back pain is avoided.

Look after your back

For anything to be put or picked from the floor always bend the knees not the back. A hard bed is ideal for sleeping as the spine remains straight. Backbone tends to sag on a thick mattress, therefore it should be avoided.

Similarly for sitting, one should opt for a chair where the back can be kept straight. People whose work involves sitting for long, should use straight back chairs and do some specific exercises regularly to keep the back supple.

If children are taught to adopt these measures, they will grow up as adults who will never suffer from backache. One should avoid lifting heavy weights. Preferably if possible, weight can be divided into 2 or 3 parts.

If calcium rich food like milk and milk products are taken regularly, osteoporosis can be prevented, which is one of the factors for chronic back pain. Similarly drinking lots of water is useful to avoid urinary tract infections.

Good menstrual hygiene in women also helps in preventing pelvic infections and also back pain. Safe and hygienic sex practices in both the genders are necessary to prevent sexually transmitted diseases and the resultant backache.

In the case of back pain

Once somebody has developed back pain, rest on a hard bed, keeping the back straight is necessary. Analgesics would be required to provide relief from pain but should be stopped as soon as the pain is relieved.

After that, one should observe due precautions to prevent relapse. Regular exercises of the back are very useful in providing relief and also prevention of backache.

It short it can be said that if one can prevent back pain it is ideal. If not, then at least after one or two episodes, one should become alert and resort to preventive measures.