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5 common reasons for backaches and pain and how to prevent them

Updated: Sep 20, 2021

Back pain or backache is something almost everyone has experienced at least once in life. If it is something acute and subsides early, we don’t really give it a second thought. But what if it has gradually progressed to a continuous nagging pain, what if it is acute and so debilitating that it affects your daily life?

Any ache or pain can eventually suck the fun out of our lives, compromising our daily activities, limiting us from pursuing those things that we enjoy doing in life.

For people with active lifestyles, who are into health & fitness or engage in some form of sport, backaches can severely hamper their quality of life. The psychological impact of not being able to live life to the fullest could sometimes even worsen the existing physical condition. This is a vicious circle that people get trapped in.

Many of my patients who have suffered from injuries and are into professional sports are forced into early retirement when they have pushed themselves and their bodies prematurely. Post surgery, or while your treatment is still on, resuming your activities as before could sometimes worsen your injuries, irreparably. Giving yourself rest and time to heal is crucial for a comeback.

Pain in the back could happen due to multiple reasons, some serious illnesses like multiple sclerosis, tumors, even a fracture, or, some not so serious but equally debilitating conditions like spondylosis, spondylitis and disc herniation.

In many cases, the pain progresses to a level where you might need to go through corrective surgery while in some cases you would be advised to continue with your physio exercises to reduce the pain.

Alternative medicinal practices like Ayurveda, Chinese Traditional Medicine and Naturopathy have effectively used conservative management or minimally invasive methods to heal conditions that lead to back pain. Ancient healing methods like Leech Therapy and Acupuncture have also shown promising results in treating back pain.

Modern medicine is now using Intracept Procedures, a relatively new technology that is minimally invasive, to treat chronic back pain. Although the procedure is backed by only 2 decades of research, it is approved by the U.S. FDA.

Leech therapy is less invasive, highly effective and has been in use for centuries. Today, leeches are used extensively in modern medicine too. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2004 approved the use of leeches for localized venous congestion after surgery, recognizing them as living, breathing medical devices.

Read my Blog about Back Pain & Injury Management for more information about Leech Therapy.

What are the 5 common conditions that cause lower back pain or backache?

  1. Poor posture

The number one cause for back pain is bad posture. Slouching, uneven distribution of weight on left and right legs while standing and sitting leads to back pain. It is surprising how people who spend hours working on a computer at work or at home, do not pay enough attention to their posture.

Poor posture can cause heartburn, constipation, slow digestion, incontinence, even cystic fibrosis. A study published in the Journal of The Royal Society of Medicine concludes that poor posture and back pain occur in many adult CF individuals and poor posture appears to be associated with deteriorating lung function. Postural problems may be reversible- Supplement No. 43 Volume 96 2003. Another study conducted by School of Physiotherapy, Curtin University of Technology, Bentley, WA, Australia and Body Logic Physiotherapy, Wembley, WA, Australia concluded that lower muscle endurance was noted in industrial workers with flexion related back pain.

Along with this there could be neck pain, shoulder pain and circulation related vascular diseases like varicose veins. Bad posture for a long period can change the alignment of the spine causing pinching of nerves and constriction of the neural passage. This results in pain, paresthesia and burning sensation in the areas supplied by those nerves.

Misalignment of the spine can cause musculoskeletal strain and muscle spasms. These result in regular aches and pains in different parts of the body.

It can create abnormal curvatures in the spine further deteriorating the condition of the back and the nerves that arise from the spinal cord.

Some patients may also complain of pain in the jaw, headaches and pain in the chest area.

Back pain can happen due to a faulty mattress as it is related to the posture during sleep. While sleep is supposed to be the time for your body and mind to relax and rejuvenate, a bad mattress can not only severely hamper the quality of relaxation but also induce backaches of varied levels.

2. Strain

Muscle or ligament pull, strain due to jerky movements, unnatural twists, using back muscles for lifting weights instead of using the muscles of your legs, stomach, arms and shoulders, injuries due to sports or lifestyle activities like gym, yoga, etc or work involving heavy objects can lead to soft tissue injuries of varying grades.

Most episodes of acute lower back pain are caused by damage to your soft tissues, such as the muscles and/or ligaments that support your lumbar spine. A lower back strain, popularly referred to as a pulled muscle, is a very common injury. Many back injuries, especially Grade 1 and 2 soft tissue injuries can heal with rest and physiotherapy.

For Grade 3 soft tissue injuries to heal properly and in time for you to go back to your regular lifestyle and pursue your work or sport, you need to see a doctor.

I specialise in treating Grade 2 and 3 soft tissue injuries and you could find more information about my treatment on my website

3. Nerve compression

The principal cause of nerve suppression is herniation of the disc that separates the vertebrae. As age progresses the chances of disc herniation and nerve compression increase. It can be triggered by sudden movements and jerks.

Degenerative conditions of the spine also lead to nerve compression and hamper your ability to lead a normal life, mainly because of various levels of pain and stiffness alongside reduced strength and mobility.

4. Inflammation

Inflammatory disorders like osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis can cause debilitating pain in the back. Such conditions cause pain and swelling, reducing the normal range of movements.

Since these are either age-induced or auto-immune disorders you will need to see a doctor, Ayurvedic or Modern who will help you relieve the pain.

Ayurvedic medicines and treatment regimens can provide relief, slow down the ageing process and even remit auto-immune conditions allowing patients to return to an almost normal lifestyle.

5. Psychological condition

Mental stress, mental trauma, depression and anxiety can also trigger backache by impacting the chemicals secreted in the brain.

Psychological conditions need to be addressed quickly and a counsellor, psychotherapist or psychiatrist can help by rectifying the underlying stress condition. Treating the psychological condition quickly can effectively eliminate back pain.

Along with these five reasons, women have physiological reasons connected to backaches. During pregnancy the changes in the pelvic girdle to accommodate the growing fetus, causes the ligaments to soften and stretch. This results in lower back pain. As the pregnancy progresses the alignment of the spine changes which also results in lower backache.

The hormones and prostaglandins released during menstruation for effective contractions of the uterus can sometimes cause muscle spasms and pains in the lower back.

Practice of Yoga, pregnancy-safe oil/liniment application, hot fomentation (mild) and using pillows for complete relaxation while sleeping can help with backaches related to menstruation and pregnancy.

I take medical Yoga batches that can help women suffering from aches and pains associated with their reproductive system. To know more, connect with me through my website or look up my Yoga videos on Youtube Yoga for healthy periods

Best ways to prevent back pain and backaches

The best way to prevent backaches is to work on it before the backache sets in.

1. Improve your posture. Slouching can cause more damage to not only your spine but also affect your respiratory system.

I would not recommend using new age devices and contraptions that help you rectify your posture, as overuse of these will ultimately weaken your muscles and do you more harm in the long run than good.

Instead, doing Yoga and meditation will help you become more mindful of your posture and will help you avoid back pain. An osteopath or a physiotherapist can also help you rectify your posture.

2. Increase the strength of your back muscles with regular exercises, stretches and yoga.

Even if you have a degenerative back condition which is affecting the quality of your daily life, you would be surprised how much of that you could reclaim, only if you strengthen your core muscles. Regular practice of core strengthening exercises through Yoga, Pilates or at the gym can help all types of physiological backaches including the aches and pains women suffer during pregnancy and menstruation.

Reserve only 30 minutes of your life, everyday for exercise and lead an active, healthy and pain-free life.

3. If you are a sports person or someone who enjoys an active lifestyle, never underestimate the importance of warm-up before your activity and cooling down after the activity is complete. While warm-up prepares your muscles and your mind for the following activity, cooling down allows restoration and rest.

4. Maintain a healthy weight by eating right and exercising correctly. Not knowing when to stop eating, binge eating and improper diets lead to unwanted weight in our bodies which increases the risk of injury tremendously.

5. Be cautious while lifting heavy weights. Engage the correct set of muscles.

6. If you are dealing with mental stress, indulge in calming Pranayama, Yoga and meditation.

Mindfulness also helps immensely.

Even after all of this you still suffer from back pain, it is advisable to reach out to a doctor, sooner rather than later. The onset of any disease is better treated, the earlier a doctor is able to start working on it.

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