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Complementary Therapists > Medical Conditions > Back Pain

Back Pain

What is Back Pain?

Back pain is a non-specific term used to describe pain below the cervical spine level. It is a medical condition that affects 80% of the population at some time in their lives and is one of the most common reasons for a visit to the doctor. In most cases the back pain will disappear within a fortnight and less that one in five people continue to have pain beyond a month.

Serious problems with the back, such as disc damage, torn muscles, or strained ligaments may persist for several months. For an unfortunate few they may end up with chronic back pain that persists for years

What Causes Back Pain ?

There are many and varied causes of back pain and not all are physical causes. The main cause of back ache is a strain of the muscles, ligaments or tendons that are connected with the back bone. More serious back pain occurs when problems with the discs or vertebrae in the spine arise. The main causes of back ache are outlined below.

Back Muscles and Ligaments

As already stated the most frequent source of back ache is when there is a strain in a muscle or a ligament. Such occurrences come about when someone is out of condition but engages in strenuous activity that the body is not accustomed to. Torn muscles and ligaments regularly occur by twisting awkwardly to reach for something. Other causes are, lifting very heavy objects, poor lifting technique, poor posture, being overweight, pregnancy, weak muscles, and even excessively high heeled shoes.

Disc Problems

On occasions severe back ache can be caused when a disc in the spine becomes squashed or damaged and presses upon a nerve. This can happen over time or can be related to a single incident with the result being that a disc may protrude from the vertebrae or indeed may be ruptured. This is known as a herniated disc and is not uncommon. Herniated discs actually rarely cause pain.

Back Bones

Osteoporosis, which is a thinning and a weakening of the bones, can cause very painful bone fractures. Arthritis is a common source of back ache due to the inflammation of the joints in the spine. Narrowing of the spine or spinal stenosis can cause pain due to a compression of the spinal cord.

Chronic Back Pain

Chronic back pain is defined as pain that lasts in excess of three months and the source of the pain cannot be identified. Sufferers are often viewed sceptically and accused of malingering, or that the pain is psychosomatic. In some quarters it is believed that the back pain is real but that the sufferers pain system have broken down and is sending pain signals even though there is no physical cause.


Stress is a common cause of back ache and it also exacerbates pre-existing back problems and may retard recovery. Psychological stress can cause people to adopt and hold postures that cause back problems.

How to Prevent Back Pain ?

Most forms of physical exercise are helpful in preventing back ache. Many back pain sufferers find that swimming is an excellent form of exercise as it builds strength and stamina without placing undo strain on the spine and back. Swimming can help recovery and also prevent further damage.

Reduce weight particularly excessive weight around the midriff as this places extra strain on the spinal column.

Stretching and strengthening exercise regimes such as yoga and pilates are excellent means of prevent difficulties with the back.

Pay attention to your posture. Avoid slouching and hunching of the shoulders. If you work in an office environment or in a job that involves sitting for long periods make sure to stand up regularly and stretch your limps. Avoid slumping in your chair and try use a chair with good lumbar support.

When bending down, especially when lifting anything, make sure to bend at the knees and ensure that your thigh muscles do the work and not your back. Never bend over and twist your body simultaneously.

In bed lie on your side with a pillow between your bent knees, or lie on your back with a pillow under your legs at the knees.

How to Cure Back Pain

A cure for back pain can be elusive for many people. Conventional medicine has made major advances in diagnosing the causes of, and curing, back pain however very many people turn to complementary and alternative treatments. Such therapies include Reiki, Kinesiology, CranioSacral, and Pilates. If you have tried conventional methods without finding a back pain cure there are a number of complementary therapists listed on this site that may have the solution to your back difficulties.


The material and information contained on this site is for educational purposes only. This information should not be interpreted as any form of medical advice. If you are experiencing any medical or health difficulties please consult with your doctor.

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