Who Can Get Back Pain?
Back pain is a very common ailment which can sometimes ease by itself within a few weeks, or months. However, back pain may also be related to a number of conditions which may need medical treatment, physical therapy or even surgery.
Lower back (lumbar) pain is the most common form of back pain but a person can experience pain in any part of the spine, from the neck, down to the hips. Taking painkillers, avoiding overly strenuous activities and keeping mobile can help reduce this pain but in some cases it can last for a long period of time, or regularly return. If this is the case then you should seek a medical consultation.
Is back pain related to age?
Back pain is not just a symptom of aging. Anyone, of any age, in any physical condition, can and will likely experience back pain at some point in their life. So if you are experiencing back pain, do not think that you’re alone. There are even cases of teenage athletes who have experienced back pain and thus seek the same medical care that you may require.
However, if the back pain is severe and related to conditions such as stenosis, then this may require an operation. If so, it is important to be aware that major surgery could result in complications and a person who is classed as elderly may be more at risk than someone in their 20s for example.
What can cause back pain?
While getting older can be a cause of back pain, as your body’s discs, joints, muscles, and ligaments wear down and become more prone to injury, and while many people experience their first back pain episodes while in their 30s and 40s, there are other primary causes of back pain which include:
- Being overweight – When a person carries extra weight above your ideal body mass index, that can put extra pressure on your spine, muscles, and joints, leading to back pain.
- A lack of fitness – People who do not exercise on a regular basis, and thus lack good muscle tone and bone strength, often experience more back pain.
- Heredity – Some causes of back pain, such as ankylosing spondylitis, a form of arthritis that affects the spine, can have a genetic component.
- Manual jobs – If your job requires you to lift heavy boxes, or push or pull heavy loads, you might experience greater back pain. This is because repetitive and arduous motions can cause muscles and ligament strains.
- Heavy lifting, or lifting incorrectly – This could even include grandchildren, for example, who may be growing and getting heavier, yet you still want to lift them. Similarly, a caregiver to an ill relative could experience similar issues, lifting a person could also aggravate a person’s back if they have not been trained to do it, or the person is particularly heavy.
- Sitting too much – If you sit at a desk or work-table for too many hours in a row, with poor posture, and without getting up to stretch and walk around on a regular basis then you may also suffer periods of back pain. If this happens frequently, then this could become a more serious, long-term issue.
- Smoking – If you are a smoker then your chance of spinal issues increases because your body might not be able to get enough nutrients to the discs in your back. Smoking also slows a person’s regenerative abilities, meaning it may take longer to heal from a damaged, or sore back compared to someone who is a non-smoker.
- Osteoarthritis – Arthritis can affect the lower back and cause pain just like it can in the joints, eventually, this could lead to issues such as spinal stenosis.
- Tumors – Cancer in the lungs, or breast for example can result in tumors that may grow, forcing organs out of position which may come into contact with nerves in the spine. This can cause significant pain and anyone who has been diagnosed with cancer and is experiencing back pain should seek medical attention urgently.
- Spinal Stenosis – This condition involves the narrowing of the spinal canal which can place pressure on the nerves, impacting mobility and causing pain. Stenosis can be treated but if the symptoms do not improve over a lengthy period of time then surgery may be required.
- Spondylolisthesis – This occurs when one of the vertebrae (bones in the spine) slips out of position and comes into contact with the nerve, like stenosis, this condition may also require surgery if treatment fails.
- Herniated disc – Similar to spondylolisthesis but this condition is caused by the soft tissue between the vertebrae ( the disc) moving out of place, as opposed to the bone itself.
Effective treatment for back pain
Below is a list of effective treatments you can do yourself to ease back pain:
- Keep active but don’t overdo it, stick to gentle activities such as walking and avoid contact sports or heavy lifting.
- Stretches and gentle exercises, such as pilates.
- Use non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce pain levels
- Use hot or cold packs to tackle pain in problem areas, a hot bath can also be beneficial.
- Reduce stress levels to ease muscle tension, simple breathing exercises can help more than you might think.
More advanced treatments which may help include:
- Specialized exercise classes are recommended by your doctor, led by a qualified instructor. This could involve aerobics and various stretching exercises.
- Visit a chiropractor, osteopath, or physiotherapist.
- Seek psychological support if required to find out details about a specialized treatment program.
Surgery to alleviate back pain
In short, anyone can get back pain at differing levels, in various regions of the spine.
If you display symptoms of back pain and it is impacting your life then try some of the home-based treatments, or visit your local doctor to see how they can help ease the pain.
Tackling back pain early can help avoid potential surgery and long-term damage.
Find out more about back-related issues in the other articles published in our blog here.