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Back pain is described as a mild to severe discomfort or pain in the back. The pain may sometimes spread into the hands, arms, and legs as well. Medical studies reveal that about 80% of people experience back pain at least once in their lives.


The symptoms of back pain mostly depend upon the type of back pain. The general symptoms include:
  • Constant stiffness or pain along the spine, anywhere from the neck to the tail bone.
  • Pain or discomfort in the upper back.
  • Severe pain in the lower or middle back, particularly after standing or sitting for longer durations.
  • Severe localized pain in the lower back, neck or upper back.
  • Severe lower back spasms while standing.
  • Discomfort in the back of thigh, legs, and buttocks.
  • Distress while performing regular activities such as stretching, coughing, bending or sneezing.
  • Weakness and numbness in the leg.
  • Constant ache in one side of the hip.
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control.

Causes of Back Pain

The exact cause of back pain may not be easy to conclude. However, it is important to note that back pain can be a symptom of an underlying disorder or disease. Some medical conditions that can cause back pain are as follows.

Injuries: Fractures and sprains can cause sudden or chronic back pain. Fractures can be the result of osteoporosis, and sprains can be caused by twists or lifts. Accidents or falls may also cause injuries leading to back pain.

Mechanical problems: Mechanical back pain is could be interverterbal disk degeneration or degenerative disk disease. Some other causes include ruptured or herniated disks, muscle tension, and spasms.

Acquired conditions and diseases: Numerous medical conditions and diseases can be the reason for back pain.

  • Scoliosis
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Arthritis
  • Ankylosing spondylitis
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Pregnancy
  • Kidney infection or stone
  • Endometriosis
  • Fibromyalgia

Tumors and infections: Even though infections are not the most common cause of back ache, they can sometime cause pain with inflammatory conditions such as osteomyelitis and diskitis. Rare, but tumors may develop in the back due to spread of cancer in the body.

Stress: Stress, although not a direct trigger of back pain, can cause muscle spasms and pain.

Treatment for Backache

The treatment of backache entails detailed physical examination, which includes medical tests and the medical history of a patient. A doctor may also recommend following tests:

  • X-Rays
  • CT scan
  • MRI
  • Blood tests (CBC, sed rate, C-reactive protein, HLA –B27)

Treatment is mostly carried out with analgesics and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).


  • The most effective measure for prevention of back pain is regular exercise.
  • A healthy and wholesome diet is also as important as exercise. Calcium and vitamin D are the essential nutrients for optimum health of the bones and the spine. Calcium is found in abundance in dairy products and green leafy vegetables. Sunlight is the supreme source of vitamin D. Milk and eggs also contain a good amount of vitamin D.
  • Maintaining ideal weight and holding proper postures while sitting and standing also help prevent back injury.

Exercises for Back Pain


Stretching strengthens the back muscles, reduces stiffness, and promotes flexibility. Some of the stretching exercises that can be performed in the morning are as follows.

Back Stretch:

1.    Recline on your back.
2.    Slowly, raise the head and pull the knees towards the chest.
3.    Feel the stretch for 20 to 30 seconds and relax.

Knee to Chest:

1.    Rest on the floor.
2.    Keep the back flat against the ground.
3.    Put both the hands beneath the right knee.
4.    Slowly, lift the right knee and bring it towards the chest.
5.    Stay in the position for 20 to 30 seconds and relax.
6.    Repeat the same exercise with the left leg.

Aerobic Exercises

Aerobic exercises include jogging, brisk walking, and swimming. People with back pain should avoid exercises that involve twisting, like aerobic dancing. A 30 minute routine, thrice a week, is recommended.


Yoga strengthens and stretches the back muscles and the spine. Some of the poses that help alleviate back pain are given below.

Half Lord of the Fishes Pose:

1.    Sit on the floor with legs extended straight.
2.    Bend the right knee and bring the right heel near the left sitting bone. Bend the left knee and cross the left foot over the right knee. Place the left ankle near the right knee.
3.    Bring the left arm behind in line with the spinal cord and rest the palm on the ground.
4.    Press the right arm against the left knee and look over the left shoulder.
5.    Breathe deeply and stay in the position for 15 to 30 seconds.
6.    Straighten the legs and come back to the original position.
7.    Relax for some time and repeat the steps with other leg.

Fish Pose:

1.    Lie down on the floor with legs stretched and feet together. Position the hands, palms down, under the thighs.
2.    Press the elbows down, inhale, and slowly arch the back.
3.    Drop your head down until the top of the head touches the ground.
4.    Exhale and breathe deeply.
5.    Stay in the position for 15 to 20 seconds.
6.    Bring your head down slowly and carefully.
7.    Let out the arms and relax.

Back pain is a major ailment and needs proper diagnosis. Any care, medication, and exercises should be supervised by a qualified medical professional.


Submitted on January 16, 2014