ThedaCare Health Matters
Back pain is one of the most frequent complaints that prompt people to seek an appointment with a health care provider. It is also a common cause of disability.
Back pain occurs most commonly in the lower back and is more prevalent as we age. It is rare an individual does not experience significant back pain at some time in their life. The good news is that the great majority of back pain is self-limited.
The low back is an area of the body that is vulnerable to injury and pain. There is one column of bones separated by discs and surrounded by muscles and ligaments that supports the entire weight of the upper body. Amazingly, the lower back is able to bend forward, twist side to side and bend laterally to allow numerous movements and positions.
Some backs are more flexible than others. There are pedicles that extend from the bodies of the bones to form joints that are susceptible to arthritis. Also, there is a column of nerves that run the length of the spine and send branches to the lower body.
Often back pain is a result of injury to the tissues that support the bones of the spinal column. This can be muscles, tendons, ligaments or discs. Most of the time this is initiated by lifting, twisting or even a cough or sneeze.
The muscles and tendons in the low back are very powerful and are necessary to keep people from falling over when they bend. When an object is lifted in a bent over position, the mechanical pressure on the low back is remarkable making injury more likely.