Causes of back and neck pain

Dr. Ajay Kothari

It is said, that no human dies without ever having a back or neck pain in his lifetime!!
One of the most common morbidities affecting humans with has a great impact on general health with its associated economic and social implications.
Even though Spine problems can affect people of any age, these are significantly more common among adults aged between 35 and 55 years. Experts say that back pain is associated with the way our bones, muscles and ligaments in our spine work and connect together.
Pain in the lower back may be linked to the bony lumbar spine, discs between the vertebrae, ligaments around the spine and discs, spinal cord and nerves, lower back muscles, abdomen and pelvic internal organs, and the skin around the lumbar area. Pain in the upper back may be due to disorders of the aorta, tumors in the chest, and spine inflammation.

Causes of back and neck pain:
The human Spine is composed of a complex structure of muscles, ligaments, tendons, disks and bones - the segments of our spine are cushioned with cartilage-like pads called disks. Problems with any of these components can lead to back pain. In some cases of back pain, its cause is never found.

The most common causes of back pain are:
Strain/Sprain:
  • Strained muscles
  • Strained ligaments
  • A muscle spasm
  • Things that can lead to strains or spasms include:
  • Lifting something improperly
  • Lifting something that is too heavy
  • The result of an abrupt and awkward movement
Structural problems : The following structural problems may also result in back pain:
  1. Abnormal Curvature - Your spine's natural curves help balance your body, however, if the curves become too pronounced, or if your spine develops a twist or an extra curve, it puts extra pressure on the vertebrae and discs. Abnormal curvatures include:
  2. Scoliosis – a side-to-side curve in your back
  3. Kyphosis –  increased curve ("hump") in your upper back
  4. Lordosis – increased curve in your lower back ("swayback")
  5. Herniated disks - Each vertebra in our spine is cushioned by disks. If the outer wall of a spinal disc tears (ruptures), the soft material inside the disc can squeeze out and press on nearby nerves. This can cause pain, numbness or weakness in your legs or back
  6. Bulging disks - –  If the outer wall of a spinal disc weakens, it may push out, or bulge, toward the nerves. This can cause painful nerve irritation. Symptoms are not as as severe as in a herniated disc.
  7. Fractures - Vertebrae that crack or break can be caused by an injury, repeated stress or a condition like osteoporosis, which can make bones weak and brittle.
  8. Arthritis - patients with osteoarthritis commonly experience problems with the joints in the hips, lower back, knees and hands. In some cases spinal stenosis can develop, which is the term used to describe when the space around the spinal cord narrows. Also, Ankylosing spondylitis which is a type of arthritis that affects your joints and ligaments along the spine can also be a proble.
  9. Instability -Spinal instability is when adjoining vertebrae slip back and forth, or have permanently shifted out of position. This instability can be caused by a damaged spinal disc, a bone injury, arthritis in the facet joints, or just something you were born with. The slippage can irritate the bone, disc, spinal cord and nerves.
  10. Stenosis - Stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal canal. Stenosis can press on the spinal cord and nerves and cause pain and other symptoms.
  11. Inflammation and wear of the sacroiliac joint: This lies where your spine and pelvis come together. It doesn’t move much, but it’s important because it moves the load of the upper body to the lower body. Swelling and wearing away of the joint cartilage can happen after an injury, because of arthritis, infection, or even pregnancy.
  12. Tumours of the spine - A tumor located on the spinal cord or the vertebral bones may press against a nerve, resulting in back pain.
  13. Infection of the spine - If the patient has an elevated body temperature (fever) as well as a tender warm area on the back, it could be caused by an infection of the spine. Amongst all infections, Tuberculosis is the most common infection that is seen in the spine.
  14. Cauda Equina syndrome - the cauda equine is a bundle of spinal nerve roots that arise from the lower end of the spinal cord. People with cauda equine syndrome feel a dull pain in the lower back and upper buttocks, as well as analgesia (lack of feeling) in the buttocks, genitalia and thigh. There are sometimes bowel and bladder function disturbances.
  15. Other infections/ Inflammations  - pelvic inflammatory disease (females), bladder, or kidney infections may also lead to back pain.
Others- 
  1. Lifestyle Trigger-
  • Back pain can be brought on by things you do -- or don't do -- in your day-to-day life, like: 
  • Slouching at your desk
  • Lifting heavy objects
  • Being overweight
  • Not exercising
  • Smoking
  • Wearing high heels     
         2. Sleep disorders - Individuals with sleep disorders are more likely to experience back pain, compared to others.
         3. Bad mattress - if a mattress does not support specific parts of the body and keep the spine straight, there is a greater risk of developing back pain.
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