Back pain is very common. Most people will suffer one or more episodes of back pain during their lives.
However, back pain can be painful, debilitating and persistent, and some people suffer repeated episodes. It can also be associated with other symptoms, such as leg pain or sciatica.
There are many different types of back pain, with different causes. The key to getting the right treatment is to establish which type of back pain you may be suffering from and to seek advice if it is not improving.
Your spine is one of the strongest parts of your body. It is made of solid blocks of bone known as vertebra, joined together by softer pads or discs which act as shock absorbers and maintain flexibility. Your back is reinforced by strong ligaments, surrounded by powerful muscles for support.
Back pain can be caused by poor posture, prolonged sitting in an uncomfortable position, and even muscular tension due emotional or work-related stress.
The nerves of the back can sometimes become irritated, compressed or trapped. Again, there can be many reasons why this happens, but slipped discs or wear and tear can lead to pain spreading down the leg, which is commonly referred to as sciatica. This can be accompanied by pins and needles, tingling, numbness and weakness in all or part of the leg and foot.
Back pain can be very painful due to inflammation and muscle spasm, and you may need to take it easy for a while. But resting for more than a day or two does not usually help, and may actually do more harm than good. It is best to try to keep moving and seek the help of a trained professional, such as a chiropractor.
If your back pain does not improve, it is important to seek help. Early treatment will get you better faster.