Back Pain

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We are born, grow up and develop our individual talents, rumor has it that the minute we are born we start dying. The body starts depreciating immediately, it’s like a controlled cycle of cell division that the body is programmed to not exceed.

Be you a lawyer, doctor, professor, entertainer, celebrity or fan, there is a need to learn the basic preventive and curative measures to help your body last long enough for you to ‘enjoy’ life.

Our resident physical therapist Sophia N. Owoicho takes us through the basics of back pain….

 

BACK PAIN

Is any pain arising from the lower neck to the crease of the buttocks. Back pain is a global problem which may affect all gender across all races, the rich, the poor, the young and old. Back pain is a major burden to society and continues to be one of the most common and challenging problems in primary health care. In anthropological circles ,it is believed that back pain is the price that man is paying for changing from quadrupled to bipedal position over a period of million and half years. {Nwuga,1985]. As a result the back has the unfortunate function of being responsible for supporting most of the body weight. Therefore making it vulnerable to damage and strain.

CAUSES

The back is composed of 24 vertebrae plus the sacrum and coccyx. It complex system with an interrelationship between the vertebrae, disc, muscles and nerves.

The bones separated by intervertebral disc, have the basic function of providing a supporting structure, protecting the spinal cord and providing attachment points for muscles. Its design makes movement possible in many directions.

Thirty one pairs of nerves exit the spine. The multiplicity of potential sources of pain makes the etiology difficult to determine. For some patients with back pain no specific cause is ever found.

However, one or more of the following may be a source of pain.

Muscle strain

Joint sprain

Disc disease

Sciatica

Cauda equina syndrome

Osteoporosis

Spondylolithesis

Cancer

Infection

Organ related pain

Inflammatory athritis {Ankylosing spondylitis}

Postural problem

Pregnancy Sacro iliac joint dysfunction

RISK FACTORS

Includes

  1. Age
  2. Physical fitness
  3. Strength of the back and abdominal
  4. Psychological factors such as stress, anxiety, depression
  5. Occupational risk factors and manual handling of materials. Bending / twisting whole body vibration.

CATEGORIES OF BACK PAIN

Back pain is in categories.

  1. Acute back pain. This is back pain from onset to 4-6 weeks.
  2. Sub acute back pain symptoms last 4-6 weeks up to 3months
  3. Reccurrent back pain are episodes of back pain lasting less than
  4. Months but which recur after an interval free of back pain
  5. Chronic back pain is back pain lasting more than three months

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS

The following are likely to be the complain of patient with back pain. Pain lasting more than a few days without improvement .Patient may describe the pain as aching, tight and stiff, sore, burning, throbbing or pulling. This pain may worsen while bending, sitting, walking or standing too long in one position. Pain may also be prevalent when you wake up in the morning. Anyone having difficulty in passing urine Numbness in the back/genital area Pins and needles

PROFESSIONAL/ INDIVIDUALS AT RISK OF BACK PAIN

Any individual whose job involves prolonged sitting, standing, walking or twisting of the back may suffer back pain. They include chief executive officers, bankers. Cleaners, tailors, health workers carpenters, secretaries and computer operators, lecturers/teachers, clergy men/ women , Imams, students/ school pupils who carry heavy school bags, heavy weight lifters, house wives, force men/women who are not fit and many more.

TREATMENT

The treatment of back pain is multidisciplinary. In physiotherapy we use physical agents like cold/ heat. The heat agents include infra red therapy, shortwave diathermy, ultrasound therapy interferential therapy and Laser therapy. Other treatments used in physiotherapy management include massage with topical gels/ creams and specific back exercises.

PREVENTIONS

Prevention of back pain is better and cheaper. The following are some of the preventive measures one can take

  1. if your work involves prolonged standing sitting/standing that is up to 2hours or more then take a break and do the opposite for 10 to 15 minutes, for example a tailor who sits more than 2hours at a stretch while working needs to take 10 to 15 minutes break by standing to prevent back pain. Similarly, one on long journey should take a short break after few hours of the journey to stretch the back before continuing the journey. If on a long flight of say 5 hours or more it is advisable to take a 10 to 15 minutes walk along the walk way of the plane.
  2. People who lift should be taught proper lifting techniques. If back pain has already developed lifting heavy loads should be avoided.
  3. Proper sitting postures in which one sits with the back at a right angle both in the office and a home using a chair that is proportionate to ones height.
  4. Modification of posture. Example instead of bending the trunk to brush into the wash hand basin one can support oneself with the other hand on the wall.
  5. Other preventive measures include avoid wearing of high heel shoes. Use flat shoes once back pain has set in. If you must use high heels do so only occasionally for short distances.
  6. Use of lumbrosacral corsette CONCLUSION In conclusion, Back pain affects all but it is preventable. Those who do not obey the above rules would continue to visit physiotherapy department for treatment so take care.

BY PT, Sophia N. Owoicho Physiotherapy Department

 

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