Back Pain: Identifying the Pain and Prevention

9th November 2019
Many issues can lead to back pain. In addition, the pain can vary in intensity. Sometimes a trip to the doctor's office is absolutely necessary. But how can you spot the symptoms?

Back pain is a common problem that has serious inconveniences. When it strikes, determining what kind of pain it is and then treating it, is essential. Fortunately, most cases only require simple solutions and treatments.

But even though most cases aren’t serious, you should see a doctor if the pain persists longer than six weeks. In addition, you should also pay more attention to your posture. Surgery is rarely the answer to back pain.

Identifying back pain

You might notice that the pain worsens when walking, standing still or bending over. Or, that you feel better when laying down. If the pain hasn’t improved in six weeks, you should see a medical specialist.

Anything before a six-week time frame is considered to be acute back pain. Subacute pain lasts from six weeks to three months. Any pain that continues to persist is chronic pain and requires more serious treatments. Lastly, if acute pain returns every so often in three-month intervals, it’s a case of recurring pain.

When you should see a doctor

Though it’s not often the case, back pain can sometimes indicate bigger problems when a person presents other symptoms such as a fever or problems in the gallbladder or intestines. If you’re experiencing back discomfort after a strong impact or fall, a check-up is even more crucial.

In addition, you should also monitor intense back pain that doesn’t improve with rest. If a tingling sensation or weakness in one or both legs follows, be especially attentive. Similarly, if the tingling or weakness extends past the knee, or if you experience weight-loss, seek medical attention immediately.

Furthermore, if you’re 50 or older and notice back pain, or if you have a family history of osteoporosis or cancer, you should also make an appointment with a doctor. If you consume drugs, alcohol or steroids, back discomfort might also flag a bigger problem.

back pain prevention urgent

Injuries and pressure

Spine injuries or bone deterioration are possible causes of back pain. If you often lift heavy objects or repeat certain movements regularly, you put pressure on your back muscles and spinal ligaments. As a consequence, painful muscle spasms can occur.

  • Arthrosis is another condition that can affect the back area. It can even reduce the space surrounding the spinal cord, which is a disorder known as spinal stenosis.
  • Scoliosis, or a curvature in the spine, also cause back discomfort, especially in the middle-aged or elderly.
  • Osteoporosis, which causes compression fractures when bones become fragile and porous, can also be a culprit for discomfort.
  • Hernias, or a protrusion in the soft material of the disks, aren’t always painful but can be a cause as well. They put pressure on the nerves and as they lack symptoms, are often accidental discoveries in spine x-rays.

Risk factors

Risk factors start appearing from the age of 30. If people don’t exercise regularly, their muscles become weaker as their abdomen becomes larger, which can bring about back pain.

In addition, poor posture when sitting or carrying heavy objects incorrectly can also result in back pain. Furthermore, people with depression or anxiety generally experience more pain.

Prevention

Staying in good shape and maintaining good posture is essential for prevention. Exercise is the best form of prevention as it strengthens muscles and while building the back’s endurance.

back pain exercise

Low-impact aerobic activities, such as walking or swimming, are great options. Likewise, exercises that focus on strengthening the abdomen and back muscles keep the core slim, which helps you maintain good posture. Keeping your body straight will reduce the stress on your back.

On the same note, sitting with a straight back with enough support for your back and shoulders is also crucial. Placing pillows strategically for your back can be a big help as it helps conserve the normal curvature. Adding on, keeping your knees and hips at the same level will help improve your posture.

Lastly, remember that when you have to lift something heavy, keep your back straight, bend your knees and let your legs and arms to the work.

If you’re experiencing discomfort, determining the type and seeking the right treatment is essential. Even if it’s not serious, your back pain shouldn’t go untreated, especially because it can negatively impact the quality of your everyday life.

  • José Luis Casals Sánchez; Ani Gasparyan; Francisco Martínez García; Álvaro Morcuende Campos; Fernando Mud Castelló; Sara Mud. Dolor de espalda. Sociedad Española de Médicos de Atención Primaria. Extraído de: https://www.semergen.es/resources/files/documentosConsenso/documento-consenso-dolor-espalda.pdf
  • C. García Fontecha. 2014. Dolor de espalda. Pediatría integral. Extraído de: https://www.pediatriaintegral.es/wp-content/uploads/2014/xviii07/01/413-424.pdf
  • Guía para prevención y alivio del dolor de espalda. Extraído de: https://tevapharma.es/docs/Guia-Dolor-Espalda.pdf