Backache, one of the most common ailments, is widely prevalent these days due to sedentary living habits and hazardous work patterns. The psychological conditions associated with emotional stress, which bring about spasm of the muscles, may also cause backache. As the back bears the weight of the entire body it gives way when it has to carry an extra load in the case of persons who are overweight.
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The back, a complex structure of muscles, bone and elastic tissue, is known as the life-bone of the body. The spine is made of 24 blocks of bone piled one on top of the other. Sandwiched between these bony blocks are cushions of cartilage and elastic tissues called inter-vertebral discs.
The vertebral discs act as shock absorbers for the back. Mobility would be impossible without discs. Sometimes these cushions rupture and the pulp protrudes a little. The process is erroneously called a ‘slipped’ disc. If the cushion disappears entirely, the result is known as a degenerated disc. In slipped-disc trouble, the nerve is affected in such a way that the pain radiates down the
thigh and leg. If the disc ‘slips’ in the neck area, it causes numbness and pain radiates to the arms.
Disc trouble does not occur suddenly but builds up over a long time. The backbone forms a protective arch over the vertebrae and spinal cord and protects the spinal nerves that are interwoven through the spinal column. There is a close relationship between the bones, discs, joint muscles and nerves in the back and the slightest problem or injury to the back or neck area can have disastrous effects.
In most cases of backache, the pain is usually felt either in the middle of the back or lower down. It may spread to both sides of the waist and the hips. With acute pain, the patient is unable to move and is bedridden. About 90 per cent of backache patients suffer from what is called cervical or lumber spondylosis.
It is a degenerative disorder in which the vertebral bone or the intervertebral disc becomes soft and loses shape. As a result of this, the spine loses its flexibility.
The main causes of backache and spondylosis are muscular tension, joint strain, poor posture and incorrect nutrition resulting from dietetic errors and lack of exercise. Acute or chronic illnesses like kidney or prostate problems, female disorders, influenza and arthritis, may also lead to backache.
Other causes include stress and strain resulting from sitting for a long time, improper lifting of weight, high heels and emotional problems which may cause painful muscle
cramping. Poor posture results from soft chairs and coaches, which facilitates slouching and sitting incorrectly. Shoes with high heels place a tremendous strain on the back and other muscles of the body. Sleeping on too soft a mattress which results in an improper back and neck posture, can cause tension, headaches and pain in the upper and lower back.
Another major cause of back problems and tense muscles is lack of exercise. Modern conveniences have made officework easier. The easy life can lead to obesity which puts a great strain on the back. When muscles are not exercised and remain weak, the chances of injury to them is increased manifold.