Injury on any part of the human body can create pain and hardship for anyone suffering through it. However, when the injury involves the back, there are a host of problems and implications that may further complicate health and well-being. A back injury in itself is a rather general phrase. To fully appreciate the complexity of the back, we need to look carefully at the anatomy of the back to get a better picture of how injuries affect our health.
The area commonly referred to as the back region of the body contains the spinal column, vertebrae, discs, and the spinal cord. The spinal cord essentially controls our ability to walk, breathe, and feel bodily sensations. If damage to the spinal cord occurs, life threatening consequences can result. The skeleton which protects the spinal cord is called the spinal column, or simply referred to as the spine. The health of the bones in the back is vital for optimal protection to the spinal cord.
There are many different types of back injuries that can wreak havoc on an individual's quality of life. One of the most common problems involving the back is a strained lower back muscle. The muscles in the lower back tend to be abused when lifting or moving in an incorrect manner. A strain or pulled muscle can make sitting, walking, standing, or even lying still very uncomfortable.
Another common back injury is the herniated disc. A disc is located in between the vertebrae. The main function of the disc is to act as a buffer between the individual vertebrae. When a disc becomes herniated, the disc loses its ability to effectively absorb the shock created by movement. Some herniations will bulge outward, creating pressure on the vertebrae. The disc may also slip out of alignment and cause the vertebrae to rub together. An individual's level of movement and comfort are greatly reduced when a herniation occurs.
Symptoms of a herniated disc can occur in the form of stiffness, varying degrees of backache pain, numbness, tingling of extremities due to nerve constriction, weakness, and prickly sensations. The pain can either be constant or fleeting, dull and/or sharp, or in rare occasions no pain at all.
Treating back injuries can be rather complicated, depending upon the nature of the injury and the severity of pain. For lower back pain that is moderate in intensity, over-the-counter analgesics such as acetaminophen and anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen may help to lessen and possibly alleviate mild to moderate discomfort.
When suffering from a herniated disc, there are several treatment options available. Non-invasive methods are usually the first line of treatment such as:
• Narcotic Analgesics
• Anti-inflammatory Medication
• Alternate Hot/Cold Compresses
• Moderate Lumbar Exercises
In many cases, patients suffering from severe herniation will ultimately be recommended for surgery. One surgical option for a herniated disc is a decompression procedure. This procedure is commonly preferred by physicians after less invasive methods have been exhausted with little or no apparent improvement.
The main line of defense in keeping back injuries at bay is prevention. There are many ways to minimize the risk of injury. Regular exercise, weight loss, good posture, and lifting heavy items properly by bending at the knees to avoid back strain are all excellent practices in preventing back injury.