Anyone who gets through life without experiencing middle back pain at some time or another can count themselves extremely lucky. We often bring the problem on ourselves without realizing how vulnerable our bodies are to a bout of sudden extreme exercise.
Take working in the garden for example. At the beginning, and at the end of the growing season, it’s very easy to get over enthusiastic about preparing the ground and clearing a plot. This often involves heavy lifting and bending around. It’s not long before the twinges begin, and this will sometimes develop into excruciating pain.
Housework too brings its casualties – shifting furniture, over-stretching to put up shelves, humping a heavy basket of washing out to the washing line. This heavy exertion places extra pressure on the back. Usually these back aches and pains get better of their own accord after a relaxing bath, some rest and, on occasion, a couple of analgesic tablets for pain relief.
This type of injury is referred to as ‘non-specific back pain’, and it is one of the largest single causes of working days lost through sick leave in the Western world. Of course some employees such as nurses, factory workers and other manual workers are prone to back problems because their work involves lifting and carrying on a daily basis.
Non-specific back pain is thought to be a result of ligament strain, a muscle tear, damage to a spinal joint or a slipped disc. ( the prolapse of an inter vertebral disc) This may be accompanied by a spasm in the surrounding back muscles, which causes additional pain and tenderness over a wide area.
A slipped disc and damage to the facet joints of the spine can both cause sciatica. This is when you experience pain in the buttocks and down the back of the leg into the foot. Sciatica is painful enough at the best of times, but if you cough, sneeze or strain in any way during a bout, the pain is excruciating.
I have a relative who suffers from osteoarthritis in the joints of the spine she is constantly in pain and suffers from a loss of back mobility which prevents her from performing the simplest tasks, such as tying a shoe lace.
Fibrositis, which causes pain and tenderness in the muscles, can sometimes affect the back even when there is no injury to the bones or joints. I personally suffered from Polymyaglia for several years. This is an inflammatory rheumatic condition.
If your back pain doesn’t respond to ibuprofen, or paracetamol over the course of a few days, it is always wise to have a doctor examine you. An X-ray may be recommended, and various anti-inflammatory drugs could be prescribed. Alternative therapies may be recommended for pain relief.