Back pain is one of the most common ailments that any of us experience. It has been stated that at least 80 to 90% of the population will at some time during their life experience a significant episode or period of back pain. For some unfortunate persons, the pain can last for months or years and be extremely disabling.
Why these problems occur is often mystifying, not only to the person who is experiencing the aching back, but also to physicians treating them. One reason is that the back is such a complicated structure compared with the other joints. It is an extremely complicated subject and not one that we intend to solve in an article written for a web site health library. Nonetheless, I wish to try to shed light on why spines actually hurt.
One observer stated that we know more about the inner workings of molecules than we do about what happens to your back when you bend over to tie your shoes.
The spinal bones or vertebrae, as they are called, are from a substance standpoint no different than other bones in that they are composed of the same material such as calcium carbonate and calcium phosphate. Each vertebra has many projections and attachments for muscles, ligaments and discs and a generous supply of veins, arteries and nerves. The anatomy is indescribably complex, which makes study of the spine very difficult.
To look at the anatomy of the spine, one would think that all spines are all the same and they are, in the sense of how the anatomy actually looks. There are, of course, a few anatomical variations, but basically the vast majority of a person's spinal structure is amazingly similar.
But, spines do not all work the same way. We each seem to have a pattern in the way our spine performs, in the way bones move and muscles contract, etc. The brain actually controls this movement. But, if muscles contract out of sequence, forces on the spine may become unbalanced and there may be an overload of tendons or muscles. That may be a major component of pain coming from the lower back.
Researchers are still trying to figure out what the safest lifting techniques are. Ignoring good advice in this regard can cause strained muscles in the back or even worse. It is very difficult to be sure which lifting styles cause problems with backs in individual persons.
It has been noted that back pain seems to come and go in those people who experience it. That is not to say that it may not be present a majority of the time; however, there do seem to be some periods during which the pain is not present. In about 10% of back pain sufferers, however, this is not the case. A percentage of back pain sufferers - perhaps as much as 10% - do not experience periods of pain relief. Their pain is present all of the time. This presents problems that not only affect the body, but the mind, also. Chronic pain can lead to periods of anxiety, depression and extended periods of time off work. It has always been known that the longer a person is off work, especially for back trouble, the less likely it is that they will return to work.