Musculoskeletal back pain tends to occur rather commonly nowadays, and it has a greater impact on the soft tissues of the lumbar region of the back than on other regions of the back. It can occur suddenly or may develop over a period of time ranging from weeks to months and can affect bones, joints, muscles, ligaments and/or tendons.
What are the risk factors and potential causes for this type of pain?
The back muscles are the most commonly used muscles by humans in daily routine activities. Our erect posture puts extra strain on our vertebral column and back muscles in contrast to animals who walk on all fours. That is the reason why back muscles have a greater tendency to get injured if not used properly.
Common causes and risk factors for injuries of the back muscles include:
- Lifting heavy weights in an incorrect way that damages your spine
- Having an abnormal body posture that is sustained for prolonged periods of time
- Having sprained muscles, tendons, and/or ligaments
- Psychological stress
- Lack of physical activity
- Work in a job/profession that demands continuous sitting for a prolonged time period, frequent bending, swaying and/or heavy weight lifting.
What are the symptoms?
There may be many signs and symptoms of musculoskeletal disorders of the back that vary from person to person but the most typical symptoms include:
- Sufferers tend to feel pain in the lumbar region of the back (lumbar spine). The character of pain may differ. It can be sharp, aching, dull or with burning or tingling sensations. Pain may also radiate to the buttocks or to one or both legs.
- Hip joint pain may occur as well.
- Certain movements or postures may make the pain worse.
- The back muscles can become hard or stiff.
- Sometimes people suffering from musculoskeletal back disorders may have pain all over the body, rather than just in the back.
- Muscles may feel overworked and stretched.
- Muscles twitching and burning may also occur.
- Overall fatigue.
- Disturbed sleep cycle. Sometimes they cannot sleep because of pain.
The intensity of these symptoms can vary from one person to another, and some people find that they can still carry out regular daily activities without any impairment. On the other hand, other people find that these symptoms may severely impact their quality of life.
Common musculoskeletal problems
Musculoskeletal pain itself is not a disease or diagnosis, rather it happens as a consequence of a separate disease or condition (even in the case of chronic pain). Some of the most common musculoskeletal problems include the following:
- Misalignment of vertebrae which also interferes with nerves, resulting in muscle tension, muscle spasm, and subluxation.
- Muscle strain due to extra workload to muscles.
- Herniated or ruptured intervertebral disc(s).
- Degenerative disc disease. The disc thus loses the shock absorbing effect.
- Irritation of the joints.
Differential diagnoses of musculoskeletal back pain
Below there are some differential diagnoses of musculoskeletal low back pain (LBP) that can oftentimes be mistaken for a musculoskeletal issue:
- Spinal stenosis. Spinal stenosis is often bilateral. The signs and symptoms are pain, weakness and numbness in the back, that may also radiate to other parts of the body, such as the legs.
- Radiculopathy or sciatica. TThis condition happens when the nerve root of the sciatic nerve is pressed between intervertebral discs. Its signs and symptoms resemble those of spinal stenosis, and cause radicular pain.
- Cauda equina syndrome. The symptoms of this condition are urinary or bowel retention or incontinence, numbness in the saddle region, sudden weakness of both legs.
- Spinal neoplasia. Unexplained weight loss and nocturnal pains that occur along with your lumbar pain are the main characteristics of this issue.
- Spinal compression fracture. In this condition, your vertebral column feels tender on palpation especially in the older patients or those who are suffering from osteoporosis or taking steroid medications.
How is musculoskeletal back pain diagnosed?
The diagnosis of musculoskeletal back pain is made by a qualified healthcare professional who shall start by asking for the relevant medical history of the patient and after performing a thorough physical examination and pain assessment.
Movements of the back are observed by the physician. If the physician considers necessary, he/she can ask for radiological investigations of the back including X-Ray, CT scan or MRI according to the degree of the disease and patient’s condition.
Treatment of musculoskeletal back pain
Conservative pain management and treatment options are recommended to initially treat pain. These include:
- NSAIDs to temporarily reduce painful sensations. Aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen are commonly used for this purpose. However, it is recommended that you consult your health provider before you take any pain-relieving medication.
- Different kinds of mobilization techniques or therapies can be used for the treatment of people suffering from spinal musculoskeletal problems. These may help speed up the recovery in acute pain cases.
- Injections of anti-inflammatory medications or anaesthetics around the painful region.
- Exercises to improve the strength and mobility of the muscles.
- Occupational therapy.
- Acupuncture and acupressure.
- Relaxation techniques.
- Osteopathic manipulation.
- Chiropractic care.
- Therapeutic massage by the trained person.
- Use of back support belt to provide extra support to the spinal column and back muscles.
Back surgery is an invasive treatment method that should be reserved for extreme cases only, and as a last resort option.
Using a spinal decompression device, such as the Spinal Backrack, may be more beneficial instead, as it is natural and non-invasive.
Backrack Spinal Decompression Device
In addition to alleviating back pain, the Backrack is a great tool to also prevent it from returning. With regular use, the incidence of back pain, especially in the lower back, can be significantly reduced.
Apart from that, musculoskeletal back pain disorders can be prevented by adopting good lifting techniques, performing regular exercise, maintaining your weight within the normal range of BMI and stretching your muscles before performing any sports activities.
Author: Spinal Backrack