Back pain is something many people experience in their life. There are many causes for back pain that will be discussed in this booklet.
It is important to understand the anatomy (or structure) of the back/spine. The spine is made up of:
- bony vertebra,
- that are separated by a cartilage disc (the blue disc in the diagram)
- the spinal cord (in yellow), which contain the nerves that activate your muscles and allow you to feel on your skin
- nerves leaving the spinal cord through small gaps in the bone to reach your muscles and skin
- ligaments and muscles
As one gets older, the bones and cartilage (the blue part) begin to ‘degenerate’, which is to say that they start to break down and lose their original strength and shape. With this, problems may arise in the structure of the spine. This can result in back pain.
Sometimes, the nerves leaving the spinal cord can be pinched by the bones or cartilage, which results in pain that goes into your leg.
Lower back pain in older adults is often ‘mechanical back pain’. This occurs because the lower back is put under strain through many movements and, with age, pain can start to occur. Most often, this form of lower back pain is due to excess strain, particularly due to heavy weight.
Therefore, one can prevent and cure this form of back pain by ensuring your weight is controlled and within the normal range. Use the ‘Weight Goal’ section within the app to find out if you need to lose weight.
There are also more serious forms of back pain. Below is a long list of signs that indicate you should see a doctor.
- Bladder or bowel disturbance (retention/constipation or incontinence)
- Numbness of the buttocks or legs
- Leg weakness or difficulty walking
- Recent injury
- Sudden severe upper stomach pain with nausea or vomiting
- Pain in the middle region of your back
- If you’ve been experiencing a cough, night sweats, loss of weight or fever
- If you’re younger than 20 or older than 55 years
- If the pain is constant and getting worse
- If you’ve had cancer before
Go to your nearest clinic if you are experiencing any of the above alongside your back pain.