Back hurts: who is to blame and what to do?

back pain in a man

The human spine begins to form in the fifth week of intrauterine development, and finally develops by the age of 20-25. And by the age of 30, only 1 person in a thousand can boast of a healthy spine. Almost the entire adult population of developed countries complains of some kind of back problem. Where do they come from?

Safe support

The spine consists of 33-34 vertebrae located one above the other, connected in a single chain. Yes, oddly enough, the number of vertebrae varies from person to person. It does not depend on race, gender, or age - but only on how high a person's tail fell off. And this is not a joke - the difference in anatomy is actually due to the number of coccygeal vertebrae that each of us inherited from the tail.

Inside the spine is the spinal cord - the main communication channel between all parts of our body. The nerve endings extending from the spinal cord are “connected” to each organ, to each limb and connect them to the “central computer” - the brain.

Almost all the muscles of the abdomen and chest are connected to the spine. And not only those that we see in the mirror and swing on the simulators. In addition to the superficial muscles, a person also has internal muscles that support internal organs, help resist gravity and keep the body upright.

A flexible system of connecting the vertebrae allows a person to move - sit, bend over, turn, twist his head. "Shock absorbers" - intervertebral discs - are laid between the vertebrae. These are flexible cartilages that soften the shock of steps and jumps, and prevent the vertebrae from banging and rubbing against each other. Normally, the intervertebral discs consist of a solid annulus fibrosus and a liquid nucleus pulposus. However, with various injuries and pathologies, their structure is disrupted, which leads to various diseases. As soon as one disk fails, problems begin.

Why does my back hurt?

posture of a person at the computer

Back problems are the price we are forced to pay for a measured, calm life, not burdened with physical labor. An unnatural position of the body while working on a computer, many hours of immobility in the office and at home, the lack of adequate loads have the most detrimental effect on the condition of the spine.

No less dangerous are internal traumatic factors - the quality of human tissues. It is laid down in childhood and maintained for the rest of your life. The quality of fabrics is determined by the volume of the load - the greater the load, and the more natural it is, the denser the fabric. Children who are not allowed to move freely, who sit all day, buried in gadgets, grow up loose like broiler chickens that have spent their whole lives in a cramped cage.

As a result, the spine cannot withstand the loads that increase with age, and curvatures, fractures, compression, hernias occur. It is impossible to completely correct the consequences of improper development, but it is never too late to start leading a correct lifestyle that is beneficial for the spine: eat right, move right, and so on.

How does your back hurt?

back pain in a woman

Neck ache, pulled the lower back, shot in the back . . . These symptoms are known to most of us. In youth, when problems are just beginning, they are not paid attention to. Moreover, at first, the unpleasant sensations are not constant. If you hurt, it will let go, sometimes even for a long time. However, over time, back pain becomes more and more frequent.

Most often, back problems are associated with several major disorders of the spine.

  1. Protrusion and herniated intervertebral disc are, in fact, two stages of the same process. Due to various pathological factors, the intervertebral disc changes its structure, and the nucleus pulposus begins to protrude. The fibrous ring takes a blow on itself, and up to a certain point delays the process. The protrusion of the intervertebral disc without rupture of the fibrous ring is called protrusion of the spine. However, over time, if nothing is done, it does not withstand the load and breaks. An intervertebral hernia occurs. Bulging back and to the side, it presses on the root of the nerve at the site of its exit from the spinal canal. Inflammation begins, accompanied by severe edema, sharp incessant pain. If the protrusion is still amenable to conservative treatment, then the hernia is a direct route to the operating table.
  2. Osteochondrosis is a loss of elasticity, shape and consistency of vertebral cartilage. With age, the vertebrae themselves change - outgrowths and spines appear, with the help of which the body tries to restore the damaged spine. Severe pain appears, limitation of mobility in the affected joints, neuralgia, and so on.
  3. Spondylolisthesis - displacement of the vertebrae. Wrong position of the back, sudden movements, heavy loads and microtrauma lead to the fact that the superior vertebra is shifted relative to the inferior one, and pinches the intervertebral disc.
  4. Radiculitis - infringement of the roots of the spinal nerves. It can be either a consequence of a herniated disc or the result of osteochondrosis. However, this disease often develops on its own. For example, due to age-related changes, the distance between the vertebrae may decrease and they pinch the nerves.
  5. Scoliosis is a curvature of the spine. As a rule, it is provoked by regular and prolonged stay in an uncomfortable position - for example, if the computer monitor is strongly shifted to the side. Over time, the spine adapts to the conditions, choosing the most comfortable position for itself, but posture suffers from this, and with a significant curvature of the spine during movements, severe pain occurs.

The main and most noticeable symptom of all these diseases is severe back pain. They start and end differently for each person. Sometimes a person feels pain after a long period of immobility - for example, in the morning after sleeping. In other people, pain, on the contrary, appears during movement. In the third - while staying in a certain position - for example, lying on his stomach. The nature of the pain is also varied: from dull aching to instantly "shooting through" the whole body.

Another characteristic symptom is rapid fatigue and a desire to rest, even with small loads. Various symptoms of a neurological nature can join this. For example, numbness in the limbs, muscle weakness, etc.

With deformity of the spine, the spinal cord and the nerve endings extending from it suffer. Because of this, the conduction of the nerve impulse to the corresponding organ is disrupted, which affects its work.

In addition, the ligamentous apparatus attached to the spine is disturbed, which supports the insides in a certain position. Because of this, there is a displacement of organs and a violation of their functions.

Take care of your back when you're young!

What can you do to keep your back relatively healthy for as long as possible? In absolutely healthy it will not work: the way of life that we lead is so contrary to the one for which nature designed the spine, that sooner or later everyone has back problems. However, it is possible and necessary to smooth them out. First, let's figure out what factors negatively affect the spine.

  1. A sedentary lifestyle causes the muscles, which ideally should support the spine, weaken and no longer function.
  2. Excess weight is a constant load that puts pressure on the spine. Imagine that you are constantly walking with a backpack weighing 10 kilograms, or even more.
  3. Staying in the wrong posture for a long time - especially sitting. The European habit of sitting on a chair or armchair is the most unnatural posture for our body. This increases the static load on the spine and disrupts its natural curves.
  4. Incorrect posture.
  5. Lifting heavy weights leads to microtrauma of the spine and compression of the intervertebral discs.
  6. Improper diet and lack of vitamins.

Now is the time to tell you what the spine wants to feel good about.

  1. By reducing your weight, you will reduce the stress on the spine.
  2. Learn to properly lift and carry weights. Do not carry weights with outstretched arms or in one hand. A backpack is better than a bag!
  3. Do not neglect physical activity. Including - and morning exercises.
  4. Walking, oriental practices, joint gymnastics are useful. But do not overdo it: sharp bends and intense rotations can injure your back. If possible, hang on the horizontal bar, this stretches the spine.
  5. If possible, learn to ride. Hippotherapy is even used for the rehabilitation of back injuries. The movements that a person performs while sitting in the saddle relieve the vertebrae and strengthen the back muscles.
  6. Avoid negative emotions - they cause muscle tightness, which can lead to back pain.
  7. Sleep on the correct bed. In case of problems with posture, the mattress should be quite hard, but if the discs are bothering you, you cannot sleep on the hard one: the mattress should be medium firm and fix the position of the body. It is better to choose a special orthopedic pillow. This will allow your back muscles to relax as much as possible while you sleep.
  8. Eat right. Diseases of the spine require giving up fatty, smoked, spicy and especially salty foods. Salt deposits in bones and joints and leads to many diseases of the spine.
  9. Drink water. It supports the cushioning capacity of the intervertebral discs.
  10. Drink vitamins. A and D regulate calcium and phosphorus metabolism, which are responsible for bone density. Vitamin C is responsible for the production of a fibrillar protein that is responsible for connecting cells in bones. However, vitamins B1, B6 and B12 are most important for the spine.

Back and sports

Traditionally, it is believed that in case of problems with the spine, those types of physical activity are not shown where there is a multidirectional uncontrolled load on the back. This includes all game sports, and strength training, and martial arts.

However, the modern view of the problem is somewhat more flexible: there are no strict restrictions on the choice of sport for back problems. It all depends on the degree of rehabilitation of the person. If you have back problems, but you want to do some kind of sport, the same karate or football, you can act according to the following scheme: we come to the coach for a trial lesson, where we voice our health restrictions. Then we get acquainted with the expected loads, and with this knowledge we turn to a specialist (sports doctor, osteopath, orthopedic traumatologist, etc. ) for advice. If necessary, a specialist will prescribe methods of functional rehabilitation, for example, exercise therapy, massage, etc. , and also indicate the amount of permissible and safe loads in your condition.

If you carefully monitor your body, work with competent coaches and be observed by appropriate doctors, a person can afford physical activity in almost any sport without harm to health, including those that are traditionally not recommended. Even after serious spinal injuries, with proper rehabilitation, people return not only to an active life, but also to professional sports.

The types of physical activity that include slow, controlled movements: Pilates, neurodynamic gymnastics, qigong, callanetics, yoga, and the like will be useful for maintaining normal back muscles. Swimming, water aerobics, non-combat wushu and horse riding also have a good effect on the work of the back. The main thing - do not forget to carefully and rationally treat your body and recognize in time the “distress signals” that your back sends. If you experience muscle clamps, pain, stiffness, or limitation of movement, this is a serious reason to see a specialist. By saving on consultations, you risk getting serious problems in the future.

Where to go for treatment?

neck massage

Doctors say that it is the diseases of the spine that the anti-record for self-medication and self-diagnosis belongs to. Back hurts - the person immediately decides: “Aha, osteochondrosis. I have to go to a chiropractor.

Meanwhile, the spine can hurt in exactly the same way with completely different pathologies. Both in those where manual therapy is needed, and in those where it is categorically contraindicated and can even lead to disability!

Moreover, back pain feels exactly the same as with osteochondrosis! - may be secondary. The pain signal travels along the nerves from the affected organ to the spinal cord, and from there to the brain. Because of this, the muscles surrounding the corresponding area of ​​the spine spasm, their mobility is limited, blood circulation deteriorates, and edema may begin. For example, if pain is felt in the middle of the thoracic spine after eating, it could be a manifestation of a stomach ulcer. And neither manual therapy nor massage will help at all here!

Therefore, if your back hurts, you need to go to a neurologist, neuropathologist or a narrower specialist - a vertebrologist. You will be prescribed an examination, an MRI, CT scan or, in extreme cases, an X-ray - and then you can tell what hurts, why it hurts, and what to do next.