Back pains are common injuries in people of all ages. Whether the pain is caused by old age or strenuous activities, there are different methods to management depending on if the pain is caused by muscle or nerve damage. Lower back pain is the most common, and two out of every three adults will suffer from it at some time. When patients suffer from back pains, they will be unable to perform usual day-to-day activities without extreme discomfort and or pain.
The intricate structure of the back consists of bones, muscles, and other tissues to provide support for the body. The vertebrae consists of about 30 bones stacked on top of each other, forming the spinal column. Woven between the spaces between the vertebrae are small nerves called roots. Additionally, ligaments and tendons hold the vertebrae in place and attach the muscles to the spine. Back pain will occur when nerves are compressed or ligaments are damaged.
Lower back pain will mostly be caused by mechanical reasons, such as a strain from heavy lifting or twisting, or a sudden jolt from an accident. Doctors will need to consider all underlying back issues like inflammatory conditions, infections, and fractions before choosing an effective therapy (An In-Depth Overview of Low Back Pain, n.d.).
The most common nerve pain in the back is caused by a “pinched” nerve. When the nerve is compressed, due to repetitive motions or holding the body in one position for too long, it can get pressed between tissues like ligaments, tendons, or bones. When the spine’s disc weakens or tears--herniated disc--it can transfer pressure onto the spinal nerve (Pinched Nerve (Compressed Nerve): Symptoms and Treatment, n.d.). A pinched nerve can cause a numbing or tingling sensation and weakness in certain activities. Oftentimes, simply resting and decreasing physical activity will successfully treat pinched nerves, however if symptoms worsen and pain persists, seek medical attention as long-term problems can develop.
If back pain is not caused by a pinched nerve, then there may be damage to the muscles and or ligaments in the lower back. Muscle strains are surprisingly severe and cause many emergency room visits per year. A muscle strain occurs when the muscle is torn or stretched, also known as a pulled muscle. A lumbar strain happens if the ligaments stretch too far or tear. Both injuries will cause the muscles to inflame, leading to back spasms (Pulled Back Muscle and Lower Back Strain, n.d.).
Back pains can leave an individual immobile for a couple of days, and even though most cases can be treated with rest, precaution should be taken when dealing with these pains. However, if back pain persists, call (626) 440-5900 to make an appointment with Dr. Hilary J. Fausett at The Foothill Center for Pain Management, located in Pasadena, California.