You’ve been reaching for canned goods for years-and it’s never bothered you before. Suddenly you feel a pull, a tug and perhaps even a sharp pain. What was that? It’s your back and you’ve just done something to bring you misery for a few days. How does this happen? It’s not like you were skydiving or bungee jumping off a bridge. You were doing something mundane. It wasn’t even anything dangerous; it wasn’t something you could brag about to your friends.
“Yes, I was skiing in Whistler when suddenly this other skier came out of nowhere and…..”
No. It wasn’t anything like that.
Well, more than likely you’re not going to like the explanation. It has to do with aging. Your bone strength and your muscle elasticity and tone tend to decrease as you get older. The discs in your back lose fluid and your ability to flex is compromised. When this happens the discs cannot cushion your vertebrae as they have your entire life.
If you lift something that’s too heavy, or if you move just the right (wrong) way, you can cause a strain or a spasm in one of the muscles or ligaments in your back. You’re not as young as you used to be and things just don’t bounce back the way they used to do.
There are more than fifty nerves that are rooted to your spinal cord. These nerves control the movements of your body, as well as send signals from your body to your brain. If your back becomes too stressed or compressed a disc might rupture or bulge outward and put pressure on these nerves. This causes irritation and a great deal of pain.
For the most part low back pain comes after you’ve suffered an injury or trauma to the back, like over reaching for that can of chili in your pantry. It can also be caused by degenerative spinal conditions like arthritis, osteoporosis, disc disease, viral infections or birth defects within the spine itself. There are also other causes of lower back pain and they include the following:
- Poor physical condition
- Obesity, which puts abnormal strain on your spine
- Bad posture that’s wrong for the activity being performed
- Sleeping in a bad position
- Pregnancy weight gain
Once you’ve injured your back, for whatever reason, scar tissue forms during healing. This scar tissue is not as strong or as flexible of normal tissue, which means you have an increased probability of re-injuring yourself in the same spot. Scar tissue can build up and will weaken your spin which can in turn lead to more serious injuries.
If you’re suffering more serious pain in your back and it’s been going on for longer than usual, it might indicate that there’s an underlying medical condition. If you have pain in your back when you cough, weakness in your legs that doesn’t get better, pain in the back with a fever, loss of bladder or bowel control it might mean that you have a pinched nerve or perhaps another condition. If you have diabetes and have pain that goes down your legs it might be neuropathy.
Back pain can hit you for a variety of reasons and it can be debilitating. Keeping in good health, eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly will help improve your odds of avoiding back pain.