The vertebral column (spine) extends from the skull to the lower part of the buttock and consists of more than 30 bones called the vertebrae. The verterbrae are joined by strong ligaments, and there are flexible tabs that are similar to the sealing plates. Each disc consists of a though, fibrous coating that carries a gelatinous inner substance; this kind of material provides enough flexibility for locomotion (to a certain extent) of the entire spine. Most spinal diseases occur partly due to this limited flexibility. Incorrect body rotation or overloading of a single link in this chain can have painful consequences for the spine itself and for the numerous muscles and ligaments that connect the vertebrae.
Pain sensitivity increases due to the fact that the spinal cord, the major part of the central nervous system, runs through the spinal canal throughout the whole spine. In addition, there are narrow side channels in the spine, through which peripheral nerves pass along the path to the other parts of the body and from them. Because of this, any problems with the spine, ligament, or disk may exert pressure on some part of the nervous system. Spinal disorders can cause symptoms such as pain or weakness in almost every part of the body.
Most of the back pain is often referred to as “non-specific” because they have no obvious cause (and therefore can not be treated easily). Most of the non-specific back pain is caused by the ligament or wrist strain of the vertebrae, resulting in painful spasm in the surrounding muscles. In other cases, the pain is due to fibrositis that affects the back muscles. In addition, some people suffer from back pain when they are under stress, as others experience headaches due to tension.
Symptoms of non-specific pain
Pain, generally associated with stiffness, can develop slowly or arise suddenly. These can be permanent pains or can only occur in certain positions of the body. Coughing and sneezing, as well as bending and twisting of the body will probably boost the pain. Sometimes the pain can occur in only one place. Three most common areas of localized pain, lumbago, coccidiostasis and sciatica.
In the UK, non-specific back pain occurs in at least 2% of the population, and this is equally common in both sexes. Back pain of all kinds is a major health problem, and the most significant individual cause of absence from work. Though non-specific back pain is often so strong that it is difficult for a patient to do everyday tasks, there is practically no danger of complications. Such pain usually pass by itself but, unfortunately, often returns.
What to do?
Read the ‘Treatment of back pain’ article.
If the pain persists for more than three to four days, or if you have problems with the stool or bladder, talk to your doctor.
Non-specific back pain is difficult to diagnose due to its nature. After examining your back, your doctor will refer you to the X-ray of the spine to exclude the possibility of prolapse of the disc or spondylosis. However, in most cases of non-specific back pain, patients are advised to continue with self-help measures for a few more days. Your doctor may prescribe stronger pain medications or muscle relaxants, or perhaps injecting corticosteroids if a painful site can be determined. Massage and osteopathic manipulation can yield remarkable results. Acupuncture is also advised.