Posts Tagged: anatomy

Your Amazing Back | Understanding Back Pain

What symbolizes hard work, has the thickest skin on the body and yet is the number one cause of pain in adults?

Answer:  Your Amazing Back!

The spine is one of the most important parts of the body.  Without it, we could not stand or even sit upright.    The spine gives our body structure and support and carries the substantial weight of our head.  The spine allows us to move about freely, bend and provides the upper and lower body with range of motion.

The spine is also designed to protect our spinal cord.  The spinal cord is a column of nerves that connects our brain with the rest of our body, allowing us to control movement.  Without the spinal cord, we could not move any part of our body, and the organs of the body simply could not function.

Keeping the spine healthy is vital if we are to live a healthy, active life.  About 60 and 80% of all adults will suffer with back pain at some time in their life, and up to 10% of this group will develop chronic back pain.

Clearly there are many more serious questions on how to deal with chronic pain of any kind, but first it might be helpful to understand the anatomy of the back.

The structures of the back consists of the spine (vertebrae), the joints (facet joints), discs between the vertebrae in the spine and finally the muscles and ligaments that hold it all together.

  • The facet joints provide range of motion in the spine
  • The intervertebral discs work as shock absorbers
  • The back bone supports the body’s weight
  • The vertebrae protect the spinal cord from injury

It is possible for any of these structures to become injured.  The most common injury is a sprain or strain of the ligaments and muscles – usually by a sudden movement or some repetitive strain .

A strain is  a stretching injury of a muscle, while a sprain is the stretch or tear of a ligament.

When a disc becomes injured, it will bulge or even tear.  If a tear in the disc is large enough, it can leak fluids onto the spinal nerve.  This condition is known as a herniated or ruptured disc.

Stiffness and pain caused by muscular strain is usually in the low back and can be felt when bending or twisting. Severe pain or pain that radiates into the calf or foot  and is accompanied by numbness or tingling can be a sign of a pinched nerve caused by herniation of one of the discs.

Pain that originates in the low back (lumbar spine) and radiating down the back of the leg along the distribution of the sciatic nerve is called sciatic pain or sciatica.

Acute back pain is defined as back or back-related let pain which is severe enough to restrict activity for less than three months.

Chronic back pain is defined as that which restricts activity for longer than about three months.

For more information on your amazing back, understanding back pain and on chiropractic, contact Surrey Pain & Wellness Clinic.