Backache





Back pain is generally located over the lower spine which is where the most strain on the back is placed in sitting, bending and twisting.

Your doctor should be consulted for severe crippling back pain which can be caused by a mechanical displacement of the spine such as a slipped disc. Stress fractures of the spine are not uncommon as a result of unaccustomed and vigorous exercise.

Finally there is the worry of more serious conditions of the spine including non-malignant and malignant tumours.

Having eliminated the more serious causes for back pain it is then possible to consider the less serious causes such as muscular or ligament strain. Chronic back pain can be due to degenerate changes in the spine associated with wear and tear.

Treatment can be divided into the following phases:

Rest in the acute stage ranging from bed rest to just a lessening off of your exercise programme which might have been a contributing factor.

A gentle manipulative mobilisation of the spine might be all that is necessary to relieve pressure on nerves of the spine. This should not be attempted until all serious causes of back pain have been firmly eliminated.

Physical Therapy including heat treatment may be necessary after the acute stage has settled, or in the case of chronic back pain.

A graduated exercise programme which may or may not need specialised supervision.

In exercising the back it is important to realise that much of the pain associated with an acute injury is due to muscle spasm.

The whole idea is to relax the back muscles surrounding the affected area and to gradually strengthen them. Rest and heat and general physiotherapy will relax them and then a series of back exercises gradually increasing in intensity will help to support the damaged anatomy and allow it to recover.

Medically prescribed medication can range form simple analgesics such as aspirin or paracetamol, through to the non-steroid anti-inflammatory preparations.

Finally, a local injection of cortisone together with a local anaesthetic might be required in the case of persistent acute pain.

Back exercises should be carried out with the spine in a supported position, generally a carpeted floor is satisfactory, firm yet soft on the body. Flexion of the spine should only be performed in a sitting position, such as on a chair and sit ups should not be attempted whilst there is back pain present.

Your should concentrate on relaxing your spine, so go easy in the early stages. Breath comfortably whilst you exercise, gradually increase the efforts you put in and then finish off with a series of repetitions in an easier less forceful fashion. If you have a recurring back pain, it is wise to always include strengthening exercises in your fitness programme. This approach will lessen the frequency of attacks. You should concentrate on back extension exercises where the spine is fully extended rather than flexion exercises such as sit ups where the spine is flexed and there is a danger of repeated injury to discs and nerves of the spine.

Painful knots in the back indicate a tightening up of muscle fibres surrounding the damaged area. These knots actually protect and the aim should not be to massage them out but rather to use them as a guide as to the progress of treatment. As the normal healing process goes on with rest, heat, exercise and perhaps medication from your doctor, these knots will gradually disappear. They should not be treated vigorously as you run the risk of damage to the underlying pathology be it a torn muscle with bleeding, ligament strain or bone problems.

Stress can be a big factor in prolonging back pain. If you are tensed up in daily in badly designed seating accommodation, then your back problems can be prolonged and exaggerated. If you suffer from a back condition, then you should ease off training programmes which thrust an added strain on the back. Jogging may exaggerate your back ache - each time your heel lands on the ground a sharp thrust is transmitted to your spine. You should run on grass rather than hard roads and run with rhythm and be light on your feet, perhaps with heel supports on your shoes.

Swimming where the spine is supported in the water might have to suffice whilst your back is troubled. Bicycling where your back is supported on the bike seat might be the answer to your back problem.

In sporting activities such as golf, a firm elastic support will help in supporting the spine and it will also limit your ability to rotate your back to an extreme and dangerous degree.

Whilst good rotation will help your golf swing, it could also be slowly increasing the damage to your spine which could put you out of golf or you particular sport forever.

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