Back pain is a common and widespread disease from which most people in the world (70% of the population) suffer at least once in their lives. It is often caused by discopathy, i.e. dehydration of the intervertebral disc, leading to chronic lumbar pain with acute episodes.
Discopathy – also known as degenerative disc disease, despite its name, is not a disease. This is a progressive condition that occurs over time from wear and tear or injury.
The discs on your back are located between the vertebrae of the spine. They act as cushions and shock absorbers. The discs help you stand up. They also help you move.
Discopathy – what are the risk factors?
Activities, such as weightlifting, constantly stress the intervertebral discs and are considered risk factors. Another major risk factor is standing in the same position for a long time. This can also cause discomfort, especially experienced during sports activities.
To prevent the development of discopathy, avoid lifting too-heavy objects, especially with sharp movements, and try to strengthen the muscle wall.
You have an increased risk of back pain if:
– You do not play sports.
– If you engage in a high-impact activity without first stretching.
– If you are an adult.
– If you are obese.
– If you are a smoker.
– If you have arthritis.
Your emotional health also affects the risk of back pain. You may be at higher risk if you are in a stressful environment or depressed.
Causes of back pain
The most common causes of lower back pain are tension and problems with the structure of the back.
- Tense and / or tired muscles
Tense muscles often cause back pain. Tension usually occurs when lifting heavy objects incorrectly and from sudden awkward movements.
Stress can also be the result of overactivity. An example is the inflamed feeling and stiffness that occurs after a few hours of work in the backyard or sports.
The vertebrae are intertwined bones stacked on top of each other that make up the spine. Discs are areas of tissue that seal the space between each vertebra. Disc injuries are a fairly common cause of back pain. Occasionally, these discs may swell, herniate, or rupture. Nerves can compress when this happens.
Herniated discs can be very painful. The protruding disc presses on the nerve that travels from your back down your legs. This can cause sciatica and it can be experienced in your feet as:
Spinal osteoarthritis is also a potential cause of back pain. It is caused by damage to and deterioration of the cartilage of the joints in the lower back. Over time, this condition can lead to narrowing of the spine or spinal stenosis.
Loss of bone density and thinning of the bone, called osteoporosis, can lead to small fractures in your vertebrae. These fractures can cause severe pain and are called compression fractures.
Other causes of back pain and diagnosis
There are many other potential causes of back pain, but most are rare. Be sure to see your doctor if you experience regular back pain that does not go away quickly on its own.
Your doctor will examine your back to see if you have any problems. If he sees no signs of one of the more common diseases, he will perform a deeper test, which may include:
- Taking an X-ray.
- Blood and urine tests.
- Computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging to assess discs, muscles, ligaments, nerves, and blood vessels.
- Bone scan to look for abnormalities in bone tissue.
- Electromyography to examine nerve conduction.
All this is to determine with certainty whether you have one of the rarer conditions, which may include:
- Displacement of one vertebral body over another, called degenerative spondylolisthesis
- Loss of nerve function in the lower part of the spine, called Cauda Equina syndrome (medical emergencies)
- Fungal or bacterial infection of the spine, such as Staphylococcus, E. coli or tuberculosis
- Cancer or non-malignant tumor in the spine
- Kidney infection or kidney stones
Who experiences back pain?
Lower back pain, also called lumbago, is not a disorder. This is a symptom of several different types of health problems.
According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, 75 to 85 percent of Americans experience back pain in their lifetime. Of these, 50 percent have more than one episode in a year.
In 90 percent of all cases, the pain improves without surgery. Talk to your doctor if you have back pain.
Exacerbated forms of discopathy can lead to osteoarthritis in the back. In this form of osteoarthritis, the vertebrae are rubbed together because there are no discs left to seal them. This can cause back pain and stiffness and severely limit the activities you can comfortably perform.
Exercise is essential for your overall health, but especially if you have back pain associated with discopathy.
Reduced mobility or immobility may increase the risk of:
- Worsening pain
- Decreased muscle tone
- Reduced flexibility in the back
- Blood clots in the legs
Treatment, unfortunately, cannot eliminate degenerative damage, but it can certainly help reduce pain and reduce the risk of inflammation. Your doctor may recommend the following:
- Physiotherapy. Exercise can help strengthen the muscles in your back and neck to reduce pain and improve your mobility and flexibility. Exercises focus on strengthening the core muscles that help support and stabilize your spine and back.
- Stretching. Slight stretching of the muscles of the neck, shoulders and upper back can help relieve tension and neck pain. Slight stretching of the muscles of the back, thighs and hip joint can help relieve lower back pain. Your physiotherapist will teach you a few stretches that you can do at home.
- Injections. The drug is injected directly into the facet joints next to the damaged disc and can help relieve pain, inflammation and general discomfort. Injections provide only temporary relief so their effect will disappear over time.
- urgery. If you have severe pain that is not relieved by the treatment options mentioned above, you may need surgery. There are 2 surgical procedures that your doctor may suggest:
– Disc replacement operation. During the procedure, your surgeon will remove the damaged spinal disc and replace it with an artificial one. Replacement surgery can reduce or even completely eliminate back pain.
– Spinal fusion surgery. During the procedure, your surgeon will remove the damaged disc and protect the adjacent vertebrae. Spinal fusion can reduce pain and improve your mobility.
If you have decided to have surgery, your doctor will tell you which procedure is best for your condition and the risks involved.
Additionally, you may need to make some lifestyle changes to reduce pain and keep your spine healthy, including losing weight (if necessary), exercising, doing stretching exercises regularly, and keeping your spine straight by practicing good posture and sitting in the correct position.