The back can be sub-divided into upper (thoracic) and lower (lumbar) back. The main purpose of the bones in your back is to protect the delicate nerves and support your body weight. The upper back supports your chest and connects your neck with the lower back. It allows for rotational movements of your torso. It is made of 12 thoracic vertebrae connected to the ribs. Your lower back connects your spinal column with your pelvis and transmits weight to your legs. The lower back allows for bending (forward and backwards) of your torso. It comprises of 5 lumbar vertebrae. These bones are supported by ligaments and muscles.
Back pain may be caused either by spinal (thoracic or lumbar) or extra-spinal causes (referred pain from other organs). For many people, spinal causes of back pain may be associated with shooting pain or numbness in one or both legs (sciatica). These symptoms may be due to nerve compression over your back. For others, the pain may just be localized to their back. It is imperative to check up with your spine specialist regarding the cause of your back pain, so that remedial measures may be taken to prevent its further worsening.
SYMPTOMS of SPINE PROBLEMS
Pain in the back may involve either the upper or lower back. The spinal column is made up of multiple spinal segments (which include two adjacent vertebral bodies and intervening jelly-like cushion of the intervertebral disc with surrounding ligaments, as well as joints between two bones, called facets). Pain may arise due to any process in your spine that may give rise to unnatural stresses to the spinal column. It can range from discogenic causes due to wear and tear of your intervertebral disc and its bulging out into the spinal canal, to other causes of pain due to bones, joints, ligaments, and muscles. The bones supporting your back may also undergo wear and tear as a result of excessive loading, causing bony spurs to form. Sometimes, you may experience back pain only after certain activities which may relieve after taking rest.This type of pain is called mechanical pain, referring to pain arising due to the moving parts of your bones, while the other type is non-mechanical pain that arises due to conditions like tumor and infection.In non-mechanical back pain, your pain may be continuous or intermittent but is not related to your activity levels.For some, the pain may shoot down their legs like a sharp electric current. This may happen due to your nerves getting pressed at the back at their site of origin and pain travelling along the path of the whole nerve.Your back pain must be assessed by a spine specialist to have a diagnosis of the condition and understand what pain generators are involved before starting any treatment.
Good Posture to Prevent Back Pain
Back pain is also often associated with our everyday movement and posture. Posture is the position in which you hold your body while standing, sitting or lying down. Good posture involves training your body to stand, walk, sit and lie in positions where there is less stress exerted on supporting muscles and ligaments, reducing back pain. Learn more about what is good posture.
Understanding your spine can help you understand any spine problems that you may have. Our spine surgeon has given many lectures as an invited speaker and done spine surgery in Singapore and all around Southeast Asia. For a comprehensive diagnosis of your back pain, contact our spine surgeon Dr Hee Hwan Tak at Singapore Pinnacle Orthopaedic Group today. Visit Dr Hee Hwan Tak’s Google+ page here.