Back pain: causes and possible solutions

Even when you feel like there is no solution, never give up: there always is!

Among the courses I have attended, one that particularly caught my interest was the one on the “back school”.

At the beginning of the course, the professor illustrated a series of case studies that made me think about the number of people suffering from back pain; come to think of it, a lot of my friends and relatives have, or have had, issues of this kind.

Back pain has been named “the evil of the century”, gives an idea of the magnitude of this pathology.

It can sometimes be difficult to give a precise diagnosis to the “generic” back pain. However the pathology has been given many names: strain, lumbar sprain, lumbar pull, disc disease and so on. They are different ways to often identify faces of the same coin.

It is possible for different doctors to identify the same problem by naming it with different terms.

The common “back pain” expresses the symptom, not the pathology; it indicates the presence of pain possibly combined with a functional lumbar limitation.

It is also called “idiopathic low back pain”, because it is not ascribable to a well-defined pathological condition.

In analyzing the data extrapolated from a research on subjects suffering from low back pain, some researchers concluded that on more than 80% of these, the pain was not triggered by a specific cause but was often the result of several triggering factors: improper posture or movements, psychological stress, poor physical shape, being overweight, obesity and smoking.

So basically, the spine undergoes pain if it used incorrectly or exposed to the risk factors that I will list below:

Improper posture and movements

Repeated, static postures, as for those who work sitting or driving for many hours during the day, are harmful.

A risk factor is heavy jobs, which oblige moving loads with frequent flexions/extensions and/or twists.

Simultaneous extending and twisting of the spine is also dangerous, even in the absence of weight, which the “untrained” person does without using the hips, legs and core correctly.

Psychological stress

It is not at all strange that psychological stress can affect our body. In our case, anxiety, depression, worry, fatigue and psychophysical exhaustion are important risk factors that can lead to chronic illness.

Dr. Nachemson (University of Goteborg) conducted studies concerning the spine, and stated that psychosocial problems are often more influential than mechanical problems in determining low back pain. Interesting, isn’t it?

Poor physical shape, stress and smoking

Operators in the motor sciences field, or those more generally concerned with movement and exercise, will have noticed that many people do not know how to use their bodies in a suitable way to even perform extremely simple gestures.

The almost total incapacity of some basic motor schemes combined with the absence of physical exercise caused by a sedentary lifestyle, give rise to a gradual deterioration of the structure and of the conditions of its efficiency, which are often considered as “physiological” (old age), but which in actuality could easily be countered with regular and targeted exercising.

Hypokinetic disease, i.e. the absence of movement, leads to a gradual deterioration of the bones and worsening of osteoporosis.

The musculature decreases, becomes weak and loses in elasticity.

Joint mobility also decreases, as does coordination, balance, endurance, strength and all other basic physical abilities.

Being overweight, obesity, smoking, drug abuse are all causes for the lack of physical exercise and contribute to the onset of low back pain.

Analyzing the causes and finding feasible solutions

From this brief examination of the main causes of low back pain, we understand that the reason why it is so widespread is due to various factors, one of which is a sedentary lifestyle.

Taking care of your spine means not waiting for problems to arise, but preventing them with adequate training, working on proprioception, control and strengthening of the core, so that the system remains efficient and is “educated” to support loads, manage flexions, extensions, spine rotations, displacements and unusual situations.

It means not neglecting joint mobility, which is essential not only to avoid stiffening but also to allow the joints to work in the correct range; a correctly executed movement greatly reduces the chances of injury.

Prevention also means undergoing, even if there is no pain, a postural examination; the doctor will be able to identify any muscular imbalances and effectively prevent a much more serious problem. It will be much better to pay for prevention now and even in the absence of pain than spend a larger amount of money later, when the problem is already serious.

Finally, in the event of an injury, diagnostic investigations using resonance and CT scans are important, but it is equally important for the specialist to know how to read them correctly.

A small note before concluding: drugs do not solve the problem, they cover it; if you find yourself struggling with back pain do not give up, book a visit with a professional to understand what the cause is and “rush” to get treatment … maybe on vacation with us at Wellness Escapes®!

Francesco Vetri

Wellness Escapes® Co founder