Back Pain

A majority of people suffer from back pain at some point. Much of this pain is manageable and heals in a short time with appropriate treatment and rest, while sometimes it can point to a more serious condition.


Due to the complex nature of the back, comprised of many parts important to its daily functioning, there can be a wide range of causes for back pain. In cases of mild or moderate pain that should heal without much medical attention, failures common to sports injuries can provoke the problem. The most common is a pulled muscle caused by lifting heavy weights or using an abrupt motion. The likelihood of such a sprain is increased with incorrect lifting technique or lack of stretching the relevant muscles before activity. Weak or fatigued back muscles or ligaments are also more prone to injury, resulting from exercising beyond reasonability whether by excessive length of training or taking on too much pressure.

Common Conditions

If the pain is more prolonged or serious then it may indicate an underlying problem. Herniated discs in the spine can cause pressure on your nerves, though disc conditions regularly present as asymptomatic. Back pain accompanied by sharp leg pain can also suggest this injury. Other causes of back pain include osteoarthritis, particularly affecting the lower back, compression fractures in a vertebra, or structural abnormalities in the curve of the spine. Warmness in the back and an associated fever suggests a spinal infection. In rare instances a cancerous tumour can cause the pain.


Minor and moderate pain often gets better in weeks, however if there is no change in the pain's severity within 3 days of self-treatment it is important to consult a medical professional. Also see a doctor if your pain is chronic, interferes with sleeping, affects a leg, provokes sudden changes in weight or bowel movements, or appears to be the result of an accident. A doctor will conduct a physical exam to ascertain the cause of the pain.

The doctor can also suggest suitable activities and self-treatment, and recommend anti-inflammatory pain medication such as ibuprofen. You should rest for a day or two, supplemented by periods of walking. Maintaining a careful training routine is more beneficial than prolonged rest in order to keep joints flexible and muscles strong. Use a heating pad or take a shower every few hours, and try icing the affected area. Seek advice on specific stretches for your back.

Severe pain lasting over 3 months may necessitate visiting a therapist who can help you to manage your pain and mind against the pressure of the injury. At this point you should also see the doctor again. Surgery is rare and usually unnecessary but may be implemented as a last resort in certain cases.


Stretching and strengthening your back, especially through regular swimming or walking, increases its resistance against pressure and strain. Exercising leg, back and abdominal muscles all contributes to a healthy structure to complement your back. Practice suitable lifting techniques, using your legs, bending your knees and maintaining a straight spine. Try not to stand or sit at awkward angles. Smokers should quit; the habit adversely affects blood circulation, can make your pain seem worse and can lead to osteoporosis.

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