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Inactivity can be a risk factor for spinal diseases such as degenerative back disease, osteoarthritis, and cervical spondylosis. Studies about inactivity and spine health issues have shown that the key to preventing and treating degenerative back problems may lie in incorporating physical activity into daily life. For example, if an individual cannot work out, they should try stretching muscles that they don’t often use, like the ones in their neck or chest instead. Also, it’s essential to strengthen supporting joints such as those in the hips, knees, and feet so you can better absorb impact during activities such as walking or jogging. If you cannot exercise, it’s essential to be aware of your body and let your doctor know if you experience any unusual symptoms.
Main Causes of Low Back Pain
- Disc or pinched nerve: The structural fibrous discs in the spine separate and cushion vertebrae. However, if the disc cracks or ruptures, overlying nerve roots may be compressed, which can cause pain and other symptoms at that location.
- Osteoarthritis: This degenerative joint disease occurs when the protective cartilage on the end of bones wears away, causing pain and inflammation in affected joints.
- Rheumatoid arthritis: A chronic inflammatory condition mimicking osteoarthritis but characterized by widespread joint involvement without bone wear.
- Muscle spasm: This painful condition is marked by the sudden squeezing of muscles around one or more joints. In the low back, muscle spasms can occur due to an injury, causing pain and muscle tightness.
- Inflammatory conditions: Pressure on a nerve root from a herniated disc can cause inflammation of a segment of a spinal cord or the nerve roots leading to the affected area.
- Infection: Bone infections can result from direct infection from adjacent structures such as the sinuses, nasal passages, teeth, or ears.
- Osteoporosis: This bone-thinning disease weakens bones and makes them more likely to fracture. Weak bones in the spine may lead to narrowing of the spinal canal and pinched nerves.
- Tumors: Cancers and benign tumors affecting the spinal bones or tissues.
What Treatment Works Best?
- Yoga is an excellent option for patients with back problems. The practice can be tailored to specific needs or modified to fit each person’s capabilities. When performing yoga, you should start slow and let your body get used to the poses before gradually increasing your intensity. Yoga can help build strength, increase flexibility, tone muscles, and improve balance skills.
- Stretching is another great way to protect the back against injury and discomfort. Stretching relieves tension in the muscles which can result from sitting at a desk for lengthy periods.
- Physical therapy also helps patients with back issues, and it can be used to treat conditions such as spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease, and scoliosis. Physical therapists typically offer advice on proper posture, ergonomics at home and work, weight management, exercise prescription, and other non-surgical treatments.
- Fitness programs like stretching exercises, aerobic exercises like jogging or running, or toning muscles with weights may help you prevent or relieve low back pain. But make sure you talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program if you have had low back pain in the past. If you are having pain while working out, make sure to stop immediately and visit your doctor directly.
- Soft tissue massage targets the muscles in the back and other surrounding areas that are sore.
- Spinal manipulation is another treatment option for low back pain. A chiropractor uses spinal manipulation to reduce pain and increase the mobility of the spine. Spinal manipulation may be helpful to treat muscle spasms in the low back muscles, adjust misaligned bones in the low back, relieve pressure on a nerve in the low back, or reduce stress on a joint in the low back. Be sure to talk with your doctor about any underlying health conditions before undergoing spinal manipulation. Also, tell your doctor if you have had X-ray imaging tests because using these before undergoing spinal manipulation could cause harm to you.
Surgical methods are often the final resort for people with back pain. In some cases, procedures that include central or peripheral nerve blocks, decompression of herniated discs, or fusions are performed. These surgeries may be intended to allow the spine to heal itself while limiting pain and restoring mobility.
Types of Surgeries in Spine Health Issues:
- Spinal fusions are surgeries in which one or more vertebrae are joined together through bone grafts or artificial devices. The main goal of spinal fusion surgery is to relieve pain by stabilizing the spine and improving stability.
- The other option is a spinal decompression, which relieves pressure on the spinal cord and nerve roots caused by vertebral compression fractures (also called osteoporosis), spinal tumors, herniated discs, spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis (when one vertebra slips forward over another), or protruding intervertebral discs (when the disc bulges out). The system that is used in spondylolisthesis surgery is called a posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF). The advantage of this type of surgery is that it may restore the normal function of the spine. Spinal fusion surgery is reserved for patients who have degenerative disc disease or other significant spinal conditions.
- A laminectomy is a surgery used to treat back problems caused by degenerative disc disease. In this surgery, doctors cut a wedge-shaped section from the back of the vertebral column removing a wedge of bone. The goal is to relieve pain and improve spinal alignment.
- Other types of spinal surgery include posterior fusion, lumbar laminectomy, scoliosis surgery, and lumbar spine stabilization procedures.
Inactivity and low back pain go hand in hand. The best way to avoid these conditions is to be physically active and maintain a healthy weight. Exercise such as walking, lifting weights, and stretching can help you prevent and reduce back pain. Also, by ensuring the muscles of the spine are constantly in motion, you can help prevent future injuries and improve the function of the spine. If you do feel pain in your lower back, seek medical attention immediately so your doctor can treat your injury and rule out other causes of your pain.