Back Pain

DESCRIPTION

Back pain is a common ailment that can range from a simple dull pain to sudden sharp pain. Pain that persists for a few days is referred to as “acute” while pain lasting more than three months is considered “chronic”. Back pain may be caused by a simple lower back strain but can also be indicative of more serious conditions. Seek medical attention for any back pain lasting longer than three days.

CAUSES

The most common cause of back pain is a lower back strain. Lower back (lumbar) strains occur when a muscle or tendon in the back is torn or over-stretched. This may be a result of lifting a heavy object, sitting or standing for an extended amount of time, sudden twisting of the back, or a direct blow to the area. Individuals with an excessively low back curvature, weak abdominal muscles, or a forwardly tilted pelvis are at increased risk for lower back strains and pain.

SYMPTOMS

  • Low back pain that radiates down to the buttocks
  • Inflammation of the soft tissues that surround the muscles
  • Stiffness in the lower back that restricts movement and makes it difficult to maintain correct posture

DIAGNOSIS

Your doctor should ask questions about your child’s medical history and their pain along with performing a physical examination. Additional tests such as an x-ray or MRI may be ordered to provide proper diagnosis and identify the necessary course of treatment.

TREATMENT

  • Rest to avoid putting stress on the back which may cause further damage. However, bed rest should be limited to a maximum of 48 hours to avoid the loss of muscle strength.
  • Ice packs can be applied to help relieve pain and swelling. Ice should never be placed directly on the skin. Instead, wrap the ice in a towel and apply to the injured area in intervals of 15-20 minutes on and then 15-20 minutes off.
  • A back brace or belt might be used to support the back while it heals.
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may be prescribed to reduce pain and inflammation while other medicines such as muscle relaxants may be used to control muscle spasms.
  • A physical rehabilitation program consisting of stretching and strengthening exercises, pelvic traction, gentle massages, and ice or heat therapy may be used to strengthen the muscles and speed up recovery.

PREVENTION

  • Maintain a healthy weight and diet to avoid the strain that excess body weight places on the back muscles
  • Exercise regularly to improve spine stability and strengthen the back muscles
  • Do warm up exercises before the start of any physical activity and take short breaks during the activity
  • Use proper lift techniques such as squatting and lifting with the knees when lifting a heavy object
  • Maintain proper posture while sitting and standing