Severe Back and Neck Pain: Learn the Causes and Prevention

Pain caused by having bad posture when sleeping, working or exercising is all too common in the world of physiotherapy. The pain commonly affects the lower back and neck areas.
Severe Back and Neck Pain: Learn the Causes and Prevention

Last update: 01 June, 2019

Aching backs and necks are common problems in the world of physiotherapy. Severe back pain almost radiates from the lower back or neck area. Poor postures, lack of exercise, a sedentary lifestyle or lifting heavy objects are the most common causes.

People who spend too much time in front of a computer, or the better-known problems that affect athletes, tell us a lot about these issues. In Spain, many children under 15 suffer from severe back pain and a big portion of the employed population do as well.

Today, there’s a higher percentage of athletes and people who exercise while in pain. The good news is that you can prevent it by adopting a good posture when you work, watch TV or exercise.

Sharp perception: severe back pain

The nervous system is responsible for reacting when the body assumes different postures. When you exercise, before you change your posture or position, you need to analyze your surroundings first.

But, how does your body understand your surrounding space? Your body uses special neurons that receive and send stimuli. There are two kinds of stimuli: first, there are stimuli that your brain sends; then, there are those that don’t come from your body.

Body parts that affect or are affected by severe back pain

The following body parts are affected by poor posture or might be the source of it as well:

Pressure points in joints

The pressure that results from a hard pose or poor posture activate these pressure points or receptors. The brain receives information and localizes the affected area.

posture pain brain

For example, if you’re exercising and putting too much pressure on your ankles, your brain will receive that information. And if you’re fully aware of the excessive pressure but continue the exercise, it could have short or long term damages.


Next, are the pressure and receptor points in the tendons. They alert us when muscles create levels of pressure that exceeds the norm.

Once the alert goes off, the body undergoes an automatic self-protection process. It almost goes by unnoticed; the body relaxes the pressure over the tendon. The mechanism has an official name: inverse myotatic reflex, or Golgi tendon reflex.

What is reciprocal innervation for severe back pain?

The concept of reciprocal innervation is related to the nervous system and consists of maintaining a neuronal balance during an action or exercise.

You can think of it as a way for the nervous system to coordinate its signals and interact with the muscles. In other words, it regulates the different signals sent from the receptors in order to protect muscles and joints.

Muscle spindles

Muscle spindles are receptors that are located in the muscles themselves. They receive stimuli in contractions and rely on information about the grade, stimulation, and speed of a given action.


Nociceptors send out immediate warnings about danger or risks of certain postures. They continue sending warnings even when the body feels pain from a bad posture. They allow you to react in time to prevent tissue and joint damage.

posture pain nociceptors

Muscle tone and postural tone: severe back pain

These are actually two different concepts. Muscle tone refers to the pressure that the muscle fibers exert on joints.

Meanwhile, the postural tone is the force of reaction that the body generates to balance out two elements while exercising: gravity and the resistance of the body’s internal structures (bones, muscles, etc).

If you want to prevent the consequences of severe back and neck pain, make the necessary changes in the postural tone in your joints. In other words, even if it’s bothersome at first, fix your posture for all of your actions.

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This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.