What Causes Back Pain
Two common causes of back pain are disc injury and degenerative
disc disease. As discs degenerate, they lose their water content
and height, bringing vertebrae closer together. The nerve openings
are consequently narrowed and the added pressure from the disk can
pinch a nerve causing back or leg pain.
Often confused with each other, a bulging disc is normal, while
a ruptured disc is not. A bulging disc is a normal process
which happens as the discs carry body weight throughout the day.
The weight of the body causes the discs to "bulge" out. This
"bulge" disappears at night as the weight is removed.
A ruptured disc is an injured or damaged disc that leaks out watery
jelly (called nucleus pulposus) from the center of the disc. This
leakage reduces the shock absorber effect and sometime the jelly presses
against a nerve and causes pain, primarily leg pain.
Problems that can occur.
Whiplash Syndrome. If your head is bent backwards or forwards violently
your neck ligaments can be strained. (Ligaments are tough, inelastic
fibres which hold bones together.) The symptoms are pain and stiffness
which usually begin several hours after the occurrence of the injury.
A stiff neck that is accompanied by a severve headache, vomiting,
confusion, drowsiness and a hatred of bright lights may mean menigitis
(an inflammation of the membrane covering the brain and spinal cord).
A slipped or prolapsed disc in the cervical spine could result
in a severe pain in your shoulder, arm or hand. Small movements
may make the pain worse.
Back and shoulder pain which is made worse by breathing and accompanied
by a cough and high temperature may be caused by a chest infection
such as pneumonia or pleurisy.
Pain and stiffness in the back accompanied by numbness or tingling
in the fingers may suggest osteoarthritis in the bones of the spine.
The Mid Back
Back pain that becomes worse after sitting in one position for
a long time may be caused by poor posture or by a badly-designed
Stress, anxiety and emotional worries can lead to muscle tension
which results in aches and pains in the back. This is one of the
most common causes of back pain - probably affecting as many as
eight out of ten sufferers.
A sharp pain that is worse when you breathe in or move and which
follows an injury may be a result of a broken rib - or even a damaged
bone in the spine.
If your pain started after a trivial movement - such as tying up
your shoe laces or turning over in bed - it may be a result of a
slipped disc or a joint problem in your spine.
Severve, constant pain that radiates round into your chest may
be a result of a fracture caused by osteoporosis of thin bones.
Pain here that is accompanied by discomfort when passing urine
and/or blood in your urine may be a result of a kidney infection.
If you get severe pain here that comes and goes - and radiates
down into your groin - you may have a kidney stone.
Pain in the middle of the back that is made worse by eating and
accompanied by indigestion may suggest a stomach ulcer.
A pain that follows strenuous exercise may suggest a torn or strained
General backache that is made worse by movement or cold weather
may suggest arthritis in the spine.
The Lower Back
Did your low back pain start fairly quickly after twisting, bending
or lifting or did it occur after some apparently trivial movement?
If so, then it may be caused by a slipped or prolapsed disc.
If, in addition to back pain, you also have pain going down one
or both legs, or numbness or tingling in one or both legs, then
you may be suffering from sciatica - in which the sciatic nerve
can be damaged by a slipped or prolapsed disc.
If you are under 30 and you find that your pain and stiffness are
relieved by exercise you may have a condition known as Ankylosing
Spondylitis in which the discs and ligaments of the spine become
stiff and bonelike.
Low back pains that are accompanied by gynaecological symptoms
(discharge, bleeding etc.) may suggest a gynaecological cause -
such as period pain.
Pain that is mainly in the hip or groin, goes down the front of
your leg and gets worse when you walk may be caused by an osteoarthritic
Base of the Spine
Pain in one buttock - possibly accompanied by pain in the back
of the thigh - may be caused by a sacroiliac joint strain.
Further information can be found at:
Lower Back Pain
Slipped or Prolapsed Disc