Many people attribute certain afflictions only to getting old. In the general sense, this may be true but when it comes to things like low back pain, it can happen to anyone, at any age. While it is often reserved for the elderly and aging, back pain can and does afflict many.
The back is made up of many parts. The centre piece structure that holds the back in place is the spinal column, which also has the task of protecting the spinal cord and the multitude of nerves and nervous pathways that go up and down the torso. The spine itself is made up of vertebrae, and each vertebrae is separated from its neighbours above and below by round pads of cartilage called discs. Ligaments and tendons hold the vertebrae in place and attach the muscles of the back to the spinal column. The vertebrae are divided up into parts called the cervical or neck vertebrae, the thoracic or upper torso vertebrae, the lumbar vertebra or lower back area, and the root of the spine where the tailbone is located. Low back pain occurs in the lumbar part of the spine.
Depending on how long someone suffers from back pain, their pain may be considered acute or chronic. Low back pain that endures for a few days to a few weeks, or at least less than three months, is considered acute. Chronic back pain, on the other hand, lasts longer than just three months.
Many things can cause the spine to experience low back pain. Posture, obesity, weight gained due to pregnancy and a poorly kept physical condition also attribute to back pain. Simply losing weight and living a healthy active life can greatly improve the health of the spine and back.
Trauma to the lower back is a serious cause of low back pain that has to be examined as soon as it occurs. Car accidents that whip the body around can cause back pain, as well as people who overstretch when reaching or pick up something too heavy. These things can cause trauma to the back, causing the discs between the vertebrae to bulge. Nerve and muscle tissue can become irritated, bone lesions can occur, and left untreated, these things can become much more serious.
Sciatica can often be a result of untreated low back pain. This condition is caused when herniated or ruptured discs in the spine press down on the sciatic nerve that runs down the spinal column to the pelvis. People with sciatica experience shock like or burning pain in their back that shoots through the buttocks and down a leg, often traveling to below the knee.
Having low back pain is one of the most common of all job related disabilities and missed time at work. The back aches severely, and sufferers experience shooting and stabbing pains. People may not be able to stand up straight, or may not be able to bend. Both men and women are afflicted equally by back pain, and every year Americans spend approximately fifty billion dollars in back pain treatments. Back pain and trauma can be caused by age afflictions like osteoporosis but even housework, gardening and improper lifting of heavy objects can be the cause. Even teenagers can suffer back pain from heavy backpacks, poor sleeping habits and bad posture.
It's important to see a doctor whenever a person experiences any sort of back trauma. Low back pain that doesn't go away after a few days should be looked at, given the opportunity for it to turn into something else. It may also be a sign of another type of ailment. Consider visiting a doctor if back pain persists or seems out of place.