Back Pain basics ~ Health Guide

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Back Pain basics

Written by Mystic on Thursday, September 13, 2007

A common complaint, back pain occurs in about 80% of Americans at least once. Any area of the back may become sore, but the lower back (the lumbar region) and the neck (the cervical area) are most prone to pain.

Half of working-age adults experience back pain every year, but only 15% to 20% seek medical treatment. Back pain is the second most frequent cause of pain complaints, after headache. More than half of those with sore backs will have another episode within a few years. Chronic back pain has disabled approximately 1% of the US population, and it is the most common cause of disability in people younger than 45.

Back pain costs the US between $20 billion and $50 billion dollars annually, which includes treatment expenses and the cost of lost productivity in the workplace.

Back pain is often crippling enough to cause absenteeism. Twenty percent of work-related injuries and illnesses are attributed to back pain. Most back pain subsides within four to eight weeks.
Within one month, about 90% of patients suffering from low back pain will be able to resume normal activities. Stiffness and pain in the back of the neck due to mechanical or muscular causes typically lasts for a short period of time and responds to rest and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory or pain-killing drugs.

The spine is one of the most complex components of the human body, and therefore is very prone to different types of pain or injury
The spine (backbone) is a column of small bones called vertebrae. Between the vertebrae are cushions called discs. Ligaments hold the vertebrae together, and tissues called tendons bind the vertebrae with the muscles of the back. Pain can result from even minor problems with the vertebrae, discs, ligaments, tendons, or muscles.

One of the jobs of the backbone is to protect the spinal cord. The spinal cord is a bundle of nerves that runs through the center of the vertebrae and connects to the base of the brain. The spinal cord acts as a message pathway by which the brain sends signals to rest of the body. Back pain can result if a bone or a disc that has shifted pinches a nerve. The pain can also occur in the part of the body to which the nerve is connected.

Most back pain responds to a few days of rest and mild painkillers. If your pain does not, it could be a sign of something other than a sore muscle. Talk to your doctor about any pain that is chronic and does not respond to initial treatment.

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