Back pain or backache is defined as pain or discomfort felt in the upper, middle and lower back, arising from structures in the back like muscles, nerves, bones or ligament. Back pain is one of the most common ailments prevalent today, factors such as modern life-style, sedentary working conditions, or patterns associated with emotional stress and strains, which bring about spasm of the muscles, and causes backache.
Back is divided into three major parts – upper, middle and lower. Depending upon the location, back pain is classified as Upper Back Pain (affecting the area of cervical and thoracic spine), Middle Back Pain (affecting the area of dorsal spine), and Lower Back Pain or Lumbago (affecting the area of lumbo-sacral spine).
Lower back pain, or lumbosacral pain, is the commonest type of back pain. Low back pain is also known as lumbago.
The backache is also classified according to the duration and intensity of the pain. Generally three type of back pain are there, acute, sub acute and chronic. Acute lower back pain persists for less than 40-45 days, while chronic lower back pain persists over three months and in-between of these two, pain can be defined as sub acute pain.
The pain in back can also be one sided. Left side back pain or right side back pain commonly occour from a muscular sprain, herniated intervertebral disc, or renal calculi. Other causes of one sided back pain are listed below.
Structure of the Back
The main parts of our back are vertebral column, posterior part of rib cage, scapula and muscles. Our vertebral column or backbone provides support to our body weight. Vertebral column consists of 33 vertebrae. In between vertebras, intervertebral discs are there. Both vertebrae and discs form spinal canal from which, spinal cord passes. Spine also consists of blood vessels, muscles, tendons and ligaments. When all the contents work simultaneously it provides movement to the back.
Classification of Back Pain
Back pain or backache can be divided into acute, sub-acute and chronic.
- Acute back pain – This kind of pain is usually sudden in onset, short lasting, often for few days or few weeks, usually occours in lower back.
- Chronic back pain – Long lasting pain which persist for more then 3-4 months; deep, aching dull pain, which may extend to the leg.
- Backache, which persist in-between can be termed as sub-acute pain.
Causes of Back Pain
Arthritis– it as one of the most common causes of backache, backache due to arthritis can be felt anywhere in the back, and usually aggravates by movement. Stiffness, inflammation, swelling is often associated.
Wrong posture of sleeping – backache can occur due to faulty posture when a person is sitting or sleeping. Inappropriate Sleeping surface can also induce such complaints.
Obesity – increased weight can put more pressure over spine which can lead to frequent backache.
Injury to the back – injury to the muscles or the inter-vertebral disc can play a major role in such complaints. Very common due to sudden movement like stooping, lifting weight or sport injuries.
Disc prolapse or slipped disc – disk prolapse or herniated inter-vertebral disk, degenerative disk disease and spondylosis, due to any reason can cause severe backache. Such pain may shoot down the legs too due to compression of the sciatic nerve. In case of injury to cervical neck, the pain may radiate to the arms.
Pregnancy – enlarged belly during pregnancy can stretch the spine which ultimately leads to back pain or backache
Tumors – abnormal growths or tumors in the tissues of back region can cause back pain.
Metastasis – cancer may spread to the bones like breast cancer, lung cancer and causes back pain.
Backache during menses – usually females often complain of lower backache during menstruation.
Spinal stenosis – caused due to the constriction of spinal canal; aging population is mostly affected by this.
Osteoporosis – can induce severe backache, osteoporosis can weaken the bones and can causes compression fractures of the vertebrae.
Infection – if your back region is affected by infections like tuberculosis (pott’s spine) an osteomyelitis it can also lead to backache.
Referred pain – of renal calculi, renal tumors, renal tuberculosis, pancreas tumor, diseases related to female genital organs.
Symptoms Associated with Back Pain
- Compression of nerve may occur due to which the part which receives nerve supply from same nerve can become weak. For example, compression of the lumber nerve restricts the upward movement of the big toe.
- Pain aggravated by movement, prolonged overwork, sitting (but inflammatory pain ameliorated by movement and aggravated by rest).
- Extension of the pain may occur to the other parts of the body especially to the buttocks, back of thigh, calf muscles.
- Sharp pain in the neck and back after lifting heavy objects.
- Difficulty in walking or standing straight due to muscle spasm and stiffness.
- Vertigo or giddiness may occour when the cervical spine is involved.
- Physical examination – Includes posture, gait, movement, extension of the pain, modalities of the pain, and examination of the related joints like sacroiliac joint.
- Blood test – Culture examination-for osteomylitis, complete blood count, ESR test.
- Bone density examination or densitometry – To detect osteoporosis.
- X-ray spine – To diagnose fracture, decreased bone mass, arthritic changes.
- CT scan-spine, MRI– To detect nerve compression. It can be done in the condition of long continued pain.
- Montoux test and TB Gold test – To diagnose tuberculosis as it can cause back pain.
- Bone scan – To detect developing malignant diseases.
- Urine culture – To diagnoses urinary track infection.
Treatment of Back Pain
Rest should be advised to the patient in the condition of acute back pain. Physiotherapy is often helpful in cases of chronic lumbago. The exact concomitant treatment depends upon the underlying cause and should be done only under the guidance of your doctor.
Homeopathy treatment of back pain
Homeopathy is one of the most popular holistic systems of medicine. The selection of remedy is based upon the theory of individualization and symptoms similarity. This is the only way through which a state of complete health can be regained by removing all the sign and symptoms from which a patient is suffering.
The aim of homeopathy is not only to treat pain in back, but to address its underlying cause and individual susceptibility of the patient. For this patient’s current symptoms, past medical history and family history are taken into account. There are many homeopathic remedies which cover the symptoms of back pain and lumbago and can be selected on the basis of cause, location, sensation, modalities and extension of the pain. For individualized remedy selection and treatment of back pain, the patient should consult a qualified homeopathic doctor in person. Some important homeopathic remedies for the treatment of back pain or lumbago are given below:
- Rhus tox. – Muscular pain, when pain is relieved by walking and worse at rest or at first motion. There is marked stiffness and warm application give relief. Backache due to sprain; after over lifting or stretching; muscular soreness; from getting wet in rains.
- Brynoia alba – When the pain is worse on every movement and better by absolute rest, lying down and pressure. Sudden acute sprains.
- Hypericum – Excellent remedy for nerve pain especially after surgery or injury.
- Colocynthis- Pain in the back is so severe that it makes patient restless; unable to sit or lie down; pain finally settles down on the upper part of the thigh and buttock. Bending forward often ameliorates.
- Kali carb. – Lumbosacral backache, pain goes down the back to the legs. Pains, stitching, darting, worse during rest and lying on affected side. Backache and weakness after abortion, labor or profuse menses; while walking feels as if she must give up and lie down. Especially suited to backache in sacral region; backache during pregnancy; after miscarriage; great exhaustion; burning in spine; lumbago with sudden, sharp pains extending up and down back, and to thighs.
- Nux vomica – Backache due to chill, which aggravates in the morning and better from heat. Especially suited to people working for long hours in an air-conditioned office and sitting in a chair for long periods. Irritability is often increased.
- Arnica montana – Acute pain after an injury along with sore bruised feeling. Sore, lame, and bruised feeling in the back; worse, least touch; by motion, rest; better by lying down.
- Actea racemosa /Cimicifuga – Pain in the muscles with intense restlessness and sleeplessness. It is particularly applicable in rheumatism affecting the bellies of the muscles. Another use of this remedy is in the condition known as spinal irritation, it is indicated when upper and lower cervical vertebrae, particularly latter, are sensitive to pressure
- Gnaphalium – Sharp cutting pain in anterior cervical nerve, aggravation on lying down and relieved when sitting. Chronic backache or lumbago, worse by constant motion; better by taking rest; pain in back along with sensation of numbness; lumber region is mainly affected; weight in pelvis.
- Aesculus hip. – For persons with haemorrhoidal tendencies, and who suffer with gastric, bilious or catarrhal troubles. Severe dull backache in lumbo-sacral articulation; more or less constant; affecting sacrum and hips. Back “gives out” during pregnancy, prolapsus, leucorrhoea; when walking or stooping; must sit or lie down. lameness in back; spine region feels weak; backache in the lower region due to constipation and piles; backache or lumbago due to over exertion; pain in back as if back would break; aggravated by walking and stooping; bruised pain in sacrum and hips; back and legs give out; patient feels better by standing. Paralytic feeling in arms, legs and spine.
- Adonis vernalis – spine and neck stiff; aching pain with tired feeling.
- Agaricus – stiffness in the whole spine; single vertebrae sensitive to heat; shooting pain. Burning along spine; pain in lumbar region and sacrum; pain worse stooping; sensation of cold needles pricking in the back; lumbago, <in open air, sitting; tightness of the muscles of the back, as if they would break on bending; as if cold air were spreading along the back; painful weakness and soreness of the back; spine sensitive to touch; worse in dorsal region; twitching of cervical muscles.
- Calcarea carb – backache or lumbago along with weakness of spine; from rising from a seat; pain as if sprained, can scarcely rise; curvature of dorsal vertebrae; backache due to an old injury; after bathing in a river or lake; from over lifting.
- Dulcamara – backache due to living in damp basements or house; pain in the small of back; as after long stooping; pain along with stiffness of the back.
- Calcarea flour – backache or lumbago which is relieved by heat; warm application, and constant motion and worse on rest and, beginning to move.
- Lycopodium – backache in the region of kidney which aggravates before urination.
Note: The above homeopathy medicines are just an indicator of how we can treat back pain with homeopathy. Please consult a qualified homeopath in person for a full case analysis and to find the best homeopathy remedy for your individual case.