Our back is made up of bones (vertebrae that support the body’s weight), their joints (facets that guide the direction of the movement of the spine), and the discs (which separate the vertebrae and absorb the shock as you move), the muscles and the ligaments that hold it all together. One or more of these structures can be injured:
- You can strain or sprain the ligaments or muscles from a sudden movement, improper movement, or through over use.
- You can sprain the ligamentous part of your discs.
- Sprains can allows the disc to bulge & press against a nerve.
Any of these injuries can result in a two-or-three day period of acute pain and swelling in the injured tissue, followed by slow healing and gradual reduction of pain. The pain may be felt in the low back, in the buttocks, or down the leg, sciatica, (often the pain is felt primarily in the buttocks , leg or foot with very little actual back pain). Onset of pain may be immediate or occur some hours after exertion or an injury. There may be a slow onset – pain gradually increases over several days or weeks.
- Exertion or lifting.
- postural strain ( improper position when sitting – standing – bending)
- Severe blow or fall.
- Back disorders, ruptured lumbar disc.
- Nerve dysfunction.
- Osteoporosis, tumors.
- Spondylosis (hardening and stiffening of the spinal column).
- Congenital problem.
- Often there is no obvious cause.
Sex or Age Most Affected
Adults of both sexes, usually between ages 20 and 40.
Signs & Symptoms
- Pain or deep ache of the low back or buttocks. There may be burning or tingling of the leg or foot. It may be continuous, or only occur when you are in a certain position. The pain may be aggravated by coughing or sneezing, bending or twisting. Pain is generally increased with prolonged sitting or standing.
- limited range of motion (less than normal movement) of the low back.
- Stiffness of the back and hip muscles.
Risk Increases With:
- Sitting for long periods.
- Bending over while working – yard work – painting – house work.
- Participation in sports without warming up (stretching).
- Sharp increase in athletic activity (weekend athlete)
- Poor posture with sitting – standing – bending – sleeping.
- Wearing high heels .
- Exercises to strengthen /stretch lower back and hip muscles.
- Learn how to lift heavy objects.
- Use proper bending techniques with repetitive bending and lifting light objects throughout the course of the day.
- Learn how to sit properly.
- Proper back & neck support for your car/bed/sofa/chair.
- Lose weight, if obese.
- Choose proper footwear.
- Wear special back support devices for jobs that require heavy or repetitive lifting.
When To Seek Medical Care