What are the causes of backpain?
There could me many reasons for backpain.
- Backpain could be due to poor posture where the back is kept at an awkward angle and the muscles and ligaments get strained as a result.
- A poor diet lacking in calcium or lack of vitamin D
- Backpain could be as a result of injury due to lifting heavy weights or a fall
- Sometimes, back pain can be due to medical reasons like a slipped disc- a condition where the nerves of the back get compressed and there tends to be pain and numbness in the back and legs.
- Even a kidney infection or a urinary infection can cause backpain.
- In women, a gynecological infection might be the reason
- Other reasons could be an infection involving the back muscles or bones
- Sometimes even tumours that can target the bones of the back can cause backpain
- Skin eruption like herpes can cause backpain too
How can backpain be relieved?
- There are some simple remedies to try at home which might help a backpain
- Cold compresses with an ice pack can help in numbing the area and relieve pain
- A pain reliever like paracetamol, if you’re not allergic to it, might help if the pain is due to an injury
- Resting the back for a couple of days can help the pain to settle
- A gentle application of a pain relieving balm containing ingredients like camphor or peppermint essential oils might be beneficial.
When should I see the doctor?
It would be best to see your doctor if:
- The pain is sharp and unbearable
- The pain is going down one or both legs
- There is numbness in the legs
- There is weakness while walking
- Any loss of bladder or bowel control is also a serious warning sign
- Fever along with the pain might signal an infection
How is the cause of backpain diagnosed?
- Your doctor will ask you in detail about the pain, how it started and some lifestyle questions as well.
- This is generally followed by an examination wherein your doctor might check your nerves and also check your back movements.
- Based on this, there might be some investigations prescribed. These might include a urine examination, kidney function tests, vitamin D levels and X rays or CT scans for the spine.
- The doctor will probably prescribe a pain reliever, maybe in combination with a muscle relaxant, till the results come in. Do share any previous drug allergies and it’s a good idea to confirm if it’s safe to drive while on the relaxants, as some can be sedating.
What is the treatment of backpain?
Most acute back pain gets resolve with a few weeks of home treatment. Over-the-counter pain relievers and the use of heat or ice might be all you need. Bed rest isn’t recommended.
Continue your activities as much as you can tolerate. Try light activity, such as walking and activities of daily living. Stop activity that increases pain. If home treatments aren’t working after several weeks, your doctor might suggest stronger medications or other therapies.
Depending on the type of back pain you have, your doctor might recommend the following:
Over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) or naproxen sodium (Aleve), might relieve acute back pain. Take these medications as directed by your doctor, because overuse can cause serious side effects.
If OTC pain relievers don’t relieve your pain, your doctor might suggest prescription NSAIDs.
Muscle relaxants. If mild to moderate back pain doesn’t improve with OTC pain relievers, your doctor may also prescribe a muscle relaxant. Muscle relaxants can make you dizzy and sleepy.
Topical pain relievers. These are creams, salves or ointments you rub into your skin at the site of your pain.
Narcotics. Certain drugs, such as codeine or hydrocodone, may be used for a short time with close supervision by your doctor.
Antidepressants. Low doses of certain types of antidepressants — particularly tricyclic antidepressants, such as amitriptyline — have been shown to relieve some types of chronic back pain, independent of their effect on depression.
Injections. If other measures don’t relieve your pain and if your pain radiates down your leg, your doctor may inject cortisone — an anti-inflammatory medication — or numbing medication into the space around your spinal cord (epidural space). A cortisone injection helps decrease inflammation around the nerve roots, but the pain relief usually lasts less than a few months.
There’s no commonly accepted program to teach people with back pain how to manage the condition effectively. So education might involve a class, a talk with your doctor, written material or a video. Education emphasizes the importance of staying active, reducing stress and worry, and teaching ways to avoid future injury.
Physical therapy and exercise
Physical therapy is the cornerstone of back pain treatment. A physical therapist can apply a variety of treatments, such as heat, ultrasound, electrical stimulation and muscle-release techniques, to your back muscles and soft tissues to reduce pain.
As pain improves, the therapist can teach you exercises that can increase your flexibility, strengthen your back and abdominal muscles, and improve your posture. Regular use of these techniques can help prevent pain from returning.
Few people need surgery for backpain. If you have unrelenting pain associated with radiating leg pain or progressive muscle weakness caused by nerve compression, you may benefit from surgery. Otherwise, surgery usually is reserved for pain related to structural problems, such as narrowing of the spine (spinal stenosis) or a herniated disk, that hasn’t responded to other therapy.
Can backache be prevented?
Some simple precautions on a daily basis can actually help in preventing back problems
- While working at a computer, ensure that your feet are comfortably on the ground or a stool, your back is erect and arms are resting on the desk.
- Take breaks every hour to loosen up the ligaments and walk where possible.
- Always bend your knees to lift anything, before bending your back.
- If your job involves being indoors, it might be a good idea to take vitamin D supplements after consulting with your doctor.
- Some back strengthening yoga exercises, if done regularly, can keep back issues at bay.
We advocate medical advice before starting any treatment regime.