Lower Back Pain
What causes back pain?
The spinal column is one of the load-bearing elements in the human body. It is made up of 24 vertebrae, which are connected by intervertebral discs that permit them to move relative to one another. The sacrum and finally the coccyx form the end of the spine.
Pain can develop in any one or all three of the sections of the spine – the cervical (neck), the thoracic and the lumbar spine. Back pain is caused by diseases or injuries of the discs (for example, a prolapsed intervertebral disc) or joints between the vertebrae (for example, wear and tear, so-called “osteoarthritis of the facet joints”) or by other conditions. About one third of all cases of spinal pain affect the cervical spine. Around two thirds of the patients have symptoms in the lumbar spine – this is known as “low back pain”. This lower section of the spine is more exposed to heavy stresses than anywhere else because we walk upright or lift heavy objects with our backs bent.
The most common causes of back pain
The spinal column is a complex system consisting of vertebral bodies, intervertebral discs, muscles and ligaments.
Pain arises when the interplay between these structures is disturbed. Common reasons are:
- Slipped disc – the disturbance of interplay between the discs and fluid separating them.
- Locking – Poor posture or heavy lifting displaces intervertebral tissue causing pain and/or spasm.
- Degenerative changes – Bone loss due to osteoporosis or long-term wear and tear weakens the spine to cause vertebral bodies to rub and cause pain.
- Muscular causes – Pain can develop from the overwork of muscles in a particular part of the back. Or pain can develop from overall lack of core strength through poor posture putting strain on the surrounding muscles.
- Deformities – Poor alignment due to foot issues, different limb length, injury, or birth defects can be at fault for back pain.
How to treat lower back pain
Back pain can be treated with a range of methods, starting with simple exercises for mild pain. The doctor treating you will decide whether conservative treatment (without an operation) is possible or whether surgery is needed in serious cases.
Supports and braces for the back
Supports and braces are medical devices that have been developed specifically for treating muscle, tendon, joint and back pain. They mold themselves perfectly to the body’s contours and can relieve pain and increase mobility.
Supports for the lower back can stabilize the back and relieve strain on the lumbar spine. Firmer back braces can straighten and stabilize the spine and provide more intensive support and relief from strain. These medical devices can compensate for physical restrictions to allow increased activity and can improve quality of life.
Strength and conditioning
Tips for a strong back
- Exercise regularly: even just three, moderate training sessions of 45 minutes each per week increase our well-being, bolsters the immune system and keep us fit and nimble. Gentle sports such as swimming or power walking are particularly kind to our joints.
- Healthy diet: a balanced diet keeps us fit and helps us reduce weight and relieve strain on the back.
- Smart lifting: whenever we lift heavy objects, we should squat down and put the strain on our leg muscles instead of “putting our back into it”.
- Carry properly: it is best to carry heavy objects close to the body. Avoid one-sided loading of one arm.
- Stay active: everybody who spends long hours sitting at a desk should grab every opportunity to move around.