Back Pain – What Causes It and How Can We Treat It?

May 24, 2019

Back-related problems is highly prevalent among Australians, being one of the leading cause of disease and affecting 1 in 6 Australians and causing back pain. Back problems can have a significant impact on multiple aspects of personal, professional and social life but there is a lot you can do to manage and prevent back-related pain.

 

What is back pain and what are its causes?

Back pain is a very common condition that affects the lower portion of the spine and usually manifests in the form of aches, tension and/or stiffness.

The back is a complex and important area of the human body that is composed of various muscles, ligaments, tendons, disks, and bones. These provide structural stability, help with  mobility and, very importantly, contains the spinal cord that connects the brain to the rest of the body.

Problems with any of these components can lead to back to back-related problems and pain. The causes of back pain are not fully understood but common causes include:

  • Improper exercise technique
    Involving the back instead of legs and/or awkward movements while exercising can strain back muscles and ligaments and cause stiffness and/or pain.
  • Ageing
    The human body naturally detoriates with time and, as a consequence, back pain becomes more common with age.
  • Pregnancy
    During pregnancy, ligaments in the body become softer and the uterus increases in weight. This puts strains on the lower back and pelvis.
  • Degenerative conditions and diseases
    Skeletal irregularities and some types of arthritis and cancer can affect the spine and result in back pain.
  • Stress, depression and anxiety
    Depression and anxiety can cause tension in the back muscles, increasing the risk of pain
  • Work
    Occupations hazards such as slips, trip and falls, injury and many more can contribute to lower back disorders.
  • Being overweight or obese
    Excess and imbalanced body weight can put stress on the back.
  • Strenuous physical work
    Physical labour can cause muscle and ligament strains, disk ruptures and/or bone damage.
  • Genes
    Some people may suffer from back pains due to their genetic makeup
  • Unhealthy lifestyle
    Lifestyle choices such as smoking can reduce blood flow and nutrient delivery to various components that make up the back.

 

How does work cause back pain?

Back pain is the most commonly recorded workplace injury in Australia. A quarter of the working population between the ages of 18 and 44 of take 10 or more days per year, on average, as sick leave, costing Australia nearly $4.8 billion per annum for health care.

Affect people of all ages and in all occupations, lower back pain is commonly caused by:

  • Poor posture
    Desk jobs, for instance, can result in excessive slouching can exert excessive pressure on back joints, muscles and discs.
  • Slips, trips and falls
    Falls resulting from slips and trips can cause damage and pain in the back and in numerous other parts of the body .
  • Heavy lifting and strenuous physical work
    Occupations requiring physical labour can pose a risk in muscle and ligament strains, and damage, resulting in lower back and shoulder strains.
  • Trauma and injury
    A traumatic injury in the workplace (from slips and trips, for example) can injure  spinal nerves, tendons, ligaments and muscle resulting in back pain.
  • Psychosocial hazards
    Hazards such as stress, depression and anxiety in the workplace can affect one’s breathing patterns to change and cause strain and tension in the back.
  • Inadequate training and/or education
    Basic training and/or education in the workplace can help employees know how to take appropriate precautionary measures to prevent back pains from work.

 

How to prevent back pain

Multiple steps can be taken to avoid and lower risks of developing back pains. These  address common risk factors and include:

  • Watching your posture when standing and sitting;
  • Working in ergonomic workplaces;
  • Wearing appropriate protective equipment while undertaking physical work;
  • Doing daily stretches;
  • Having the right bed at home;
  • Getting good amount of sleep;
  • Maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle;
  • Wearing appropriate shoes;
  • Staying healthy and fit; and
  • Managing stress.

 

Treatment options for back pain

If you are experiencing chronic back pains and cannot seem to control pains on your own, you can seek specialised medical treatments. Treatments can include:

  • Traditional medical approaches such as:
  • Integrative/alternative medical approaches such as:
    • Osteopathy;
    • Chiropractic;
    • Acupuncture;
    • Yoga; and
    • Shiatsu.

Want to know further about how to manage back pain? Our friendly medical staff will happily discuss with you and provide you with valuable information and guidance for it. You can consult our our GPs: Dr. Julie O’Connor, and Dr. Kathy O’Sullivan, who can provide you with further information.

 

Call Ubuntu Medical on (07) 3857 3777 or email us at [email protected]