There is perhaps nothing that can get in the way of living an active healthy lifestyle like persistent back pain. The causes of back pain can very widely from person to person. Back pain can be work or injury related or can be the result of a chronic condition. Quite a few back pain issues are related to discs and are classified as either disc injuries or degenerative discs.
When referring to discs in your back, what we are referring to, in technical terms, are vertebral discs. There are 23 of them and they are positioned between each of the vertebrae in your spine. Vertebral discs perform three functions:
- positioned between each vertebra, they act as the spine’s shock absorbers
- they are the ligaments that hold spinal vertebra together
- they allow for mobility in the spine
Two Common Causes of Back Pain
As stated earlier, two of the most common causes of back pain are disc degeneration and bulging discs. Disc degeneration refers to a loss of water content in the vertebral disc. This can be a natural occurrence and has the effect of causing the gap between the vertebra to narrow over time. Because of this narrowing of the gap, degenerative discs often put pressure or pinch nerves, thus causing pain and discomfort.
A bulging disc is another common cause of back pain, though it is a natural occurrence. Discs have a tendency to bulge during daily activity such as carrying items or exercise and athletic activity. When the disc returns to its normal size, the soreness and pain will generally subside. A bulging disc is often confused with a ruptured disc, but the two are completely different. A ruptured disc has, as the name suggests, ruptured which allows the mucroprotein gel, or pulposus, surrounding a loose network of fibers forming the inner core of the disc to escape. Since vertebral discs do not have a blood supply they cannot repair themselves and this can make the pain from a disc that has been damaged last a very long time.
Other Sources of Back Pain
Pain emanating from the middle back can be caused by something as simple as poor posture. Sometimes remaining seated in one position for an extended amount of time will result in back pain as well. Back pain from this is more easily characterized as back soreness rather than a back injury, but in the short term can be very uncomfortable. We’ve all experienced the discomfort resulting from sleeping in an awkward position or sitting in an uncomfortable chair. Back pain can also be caused by something as simple as stress.
Bending, twisting, lifting and carrying can all be the cause of muscle pulls, strains, or slight sprains in the back. The discomfort from injuries such as these can range from mild to debilitating.
More Serious Causes of Back Pain
There are some occurrences of back pain where the pain is actually a symptom of something else. For example, persistent pain extending from the chest through the middle back could be a sign of a rib fracture or even osteoporosis. Back pain during urination could be an indication of the presence of a kidney infection, and back pain after a meal may be a sign of a stomach ulcer. If your back pain cannot be explained by one of the more common causes above or if your pain is accompanied by other symptoms as well. You should seek the advice of a medical professional.
For most people, however, back pain can easily be linked to some activity and may be easily treated with rest and muscle therapy. There are not many physical activities in which your back is not involved somehow. Your back plays a major role in mobility and upper body strength, so it is very important that you take care of it. As with most things related to the body, proper diet and exercise will go a long way toward protecting your back from soreness and injury.