Back pain is very common and can be severe and debilitating, either in acute episodes or as chronic pain that is both uncomfortable and fatiguing.

back pain

Why does back pain occur?

There are many different reasons for back pain and if prevention and treatment is to be as effective as possible it is important to have a good understanding of the cause in each individual. 

Back pain in general can often be traced to an accident or trauma, even one that occurred many years previously.

Back pain does not always arise immediately after an injury because the body is very good at adapting to injuries and accommodating strains and stresses. However, the disruption to spinal mechanics brought about by injury can cause strain to build up over a period of time and symptoms develop slowly.  It can involve spinal discs, ligaments, joints or nerves.  Problems in other joints such as the knee or hips can lead to back pain due to an alteration in your posture or how you walk.

Stresses within the body often cause problems in other areas as well as the back.  Many of the symptoms improve during courses of osteopathic treatment.

 

 

spine

Common types of trauma and injury

There are certain types of accident that are common contributors to back pain, even if they did not cause pain at the time. The most common ones are described here, but it is by no means a comprehensive list.

Lifting strains

Lifting heavy or awkward weights including babies, children and shopping, can cause back strain, especially if not performed correctly. If the spine is already under stress from another cause it may only take lifting a small weight to cause strain, usually at the weakest point in the spine.

Falls or direct injury

The spine is often jerked or twisted during falls, and parts can become quite impacted or compressed. Sit-down falls such as falling on ice or a slippery surface are particularly damaging because, in addition to the direct impact on the base of the spine, the impact of the head onto the top of the spine causes strain at the top of the neck. Headaches and neck problems are very common after this type of injury.

Car accidents, whiplash

In any car accident, even at relatively low speed, the body is subjected to sudden deceleration forces and can be thrown around violently in many different directions. 

The whole body can be affected, not just the neck and present symptoms.

 

Common areas of strain after accidents are:

  • Neck
  • Low Back
  • Rib Cage
Childbirth strains

During childbirth the mother's pelvis can become strained as the baby's head descends. In many cases this corrects itself, but if severe it can remain for many years and disrupt spinal and pelvic mechanics. This can cause very diverse symptoms including backache, constipation, stress incontinence, headaches, disruption of periods and even postnatal depression.

See our page on osteopathy for pregnancy and childbirth.