Back pain, medically referred to as dorsalgia is basically a common painful condition of the spine and its associated structure.
Let us first study the spine itself to understand back pain.
The 24 articulating bones and nine fused bones that form the lower end making up a total of 33 bones anatomically make up the spine or vertebral column. It is divided into four regions: thoracic or upper back, cervical or neck region, pelvic region and lumber or lower back. The vertebral column houses the spinal cord which is the nervous connecting link between the body and the brain. Nerves radiate out from the spinal cord to all regions of the body and are responsible for sensory and motor functions. The intervertebral fluid filled disks that cushion the bones and provide lubrication are present in the bones of the spine. The articulating structure of the spine is responsible for its flexibility.
Any injury or damage to the spinal column, the associated skeletal muscles, tendons, ligaments, intervertebral disks or the spinal cord itself can result in back pain. The most common form of back pain is lower back pain. “Lumbago” is a lower back pain that occurs in the lumbar region.
Muscle strain is believed to be the prevailing cause of lumbago. Lifting heavy weights, improper posture, etc. strain the soft tissues of the lumbar region resulting in pain. Injury and pain requires corrective surgery as it may have resulted from disk tear or herniation and it is very painful. As people age the intervetebral disks shrink causing vertebral bones to grind against each other, such a condition leads to chronic pain.
Another cause of lower back pain in old age is ‘spondylolisthesis’, it is the condition in which vertebrae move to a greater extent due to weakened ligaments and muscle tissue. Arthritis is another cause of lumbago in the elderly.
Swelling of the tissue surrounding the spinal cord is caused due to infection of the cartilage or bone and this results in pain and exerts pressure on spinal chord. Expert medical help should be immediately sought in such cases. Ruptured disks or inflammation which can be very painful can result from similar physical trauma.