Back pain is both misery and a mystery for the sufferer who often does not know what is behind the problem which causes pain, but the tendency can often be to try and live with it as if there is no solution.
A diet of painkillers may help to reduce pain, but it doesn't treat the cause of the problem, and over the years a patient's condition can gradually worsen, causing the patient to walk with the aid of crutches, a crooked posture, or to drag a leg as a result of the spinal condition.
The main problem is usually related to one or more vertebrae which have become misaligned either through injury caused by some physical activity or accident, or as a result of hereditary causes. The body's natural defences often oblige the patient to adopt a protective posture or gait to reduce the risk of further injury, and over time bonded swathes of flesh called adhesions stiffen the spine to protect it.
Trapped nerves branching out through the vertebrae will cause pain, and muscle spasms which often occur at the base of the spine can immobilise the patient for many days. These spasms can be triggered by even small movements such as opening a desk drawer. They are extremely painful, but they are how the body prevents further damage to the spine in the process of movement.
Slipped or herniated discs are also a common occurrence that causes agony for the patient, and indeed any chronic or acute back problem will inevitably lead to a noticeable loss in the quality of life.
It is also important to realise that many conditions such as migraine, dizziness, sciatica (pain down a leg), pins and needles, trembling or weakness in a limb, and other such complaints, are often due to a problem related to the spine.
Some elderly people who suffer from vertigo, for example, are frequently prescribed blood-thinning drugs when in fact their symptoms may be due to a stiff neck. As soon as this stiffness is eased through correct and gentle physical treatment, the complaint of dizziness is cured.
The most common factors for causing back pain are:
1. Soft tissue deposits in the intervertebral spaces which causes tethering of the nerve sleeves.
2. Scar tissues resulting from operative procedures and incisions. The scar tissue created as a result of a surgical operation is a glutinous material that grows and presses on the nerves in the intervertebral spaces affected by the operation.
The tethering of nerve roots will cause numbness, burning, tingling and other sensations in different parts of the body such as the heel, toe, arm, hand, depending on which nerves are affected.
Pain in the left knee, for example, would point to the tethering of a definite nerve in a specific part of the spine, so the symptoms quickly help to pinpoint the section of the spine which needs treatment (along with other considerations of the patient's pathology and history).
3. Fibroin is a co-enzyme deposit produced by the body's metabolism which can be deposited in an intervertebral space causing pressure and pain.
4. Medical conditions or derangements of the biomechanical structure due to distal or local factors or deformities, or accidental trauma that cause alterations in the curvature of the spine.
Other causes of back pain (as well as neck pain and chronic pains, such as chronic low back pain) include:
- Ankylosing spondylitis
- Bulging discs
- Degenerative disc disease
- Nerve compression
- Problems with spinal joints
- Spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal through which the spinal cord passes)