, one of the most common ailments, is widely prevalent these days due to sedentary
living habits and hazardous work patterns. The psychological conditions associated with
, which bring about spasm of the muscles, may also cause backache
. As the
back bears the weight of the entire body it gives way when it has to carry an extra load in the
case of persons who are overweight.
The back, a complex structure of muscles, bone and elastic tissue
, is known as the life-bone of
the body. The spine is made of 24 blocks of bone piled one on top of the other. Sandwiched
between these bony blocks are cushions of cartilage and elastic tissues called intervertebral
discs. The vertebral discs act as shock absorbers for the back. Mobility would be impossible
Sometimes these cushions rupture and the pulp protrudes a little. The process is erroneously
called a `slipped' disc. If the cushion disappears entirely, the result is known as a degenerated
disc. In slipped-disc trouble, the nerve is affected in such a way that the pain radiates down the
thigh and leg. If the disc `slips' in the neck area, it causes numbness and pain radiates to the
Disc trouble does not occur suddenly but builds up over a long time. The backbone forms a
protective arch over the vertebrae and spinal cord and protects the spinal nerves that are
interwoven through the spinal column. There is a close relationship between the bones, discs,
joint muscles and nerves in the back and the slightest problem or injury to the back or neck area
can have disastrous effects.
In most cases of backache
, the pain is usually felt either in the middle of the back or lower down.
It may spread to both sides of the waist and the hips. With acute pain, the patient is unable to
move and is bedridden.
About 90 per cent of backache
patients suffer from what is called cervical or lumber spondylosis.
It is a degenerative disorder in which the vertebralbone or the intervertebral disc becomes soft
and loses shape. As a result of this, the spine loses its flexibility.
The main causes of backache
and spondylosis are muscular tension, joint strain, poor posture
and incorrect nutrition resulting from dietetic errors and lack of exercise. Acute or chronic
illnesses like kidney or prostate problems, female disorders, influenza
, may also
lead to backache
. Other causes include stress
and strain resulting from sitting for a long time,
improper lifting of weight, high heels and emotional problems which may cause painful muscle
Poor posture results from soft chairs and coaches, which facilitates slouching and sitting
incorrectly. Shoes with high heels place a tremendous strain on the back and other muscles of
the body. Sleeping on too soft a mattress which results in an improper back and neck posture,
can cause tension, headaches and pain in the upper and lower back.
Another major cause of back problems and tense muscles is lack of exercise. Modern
conveniences have made officework easier. The easy life can lead to obesity
which puts a great
strain on the back. When muscles are not exercised and remain weak, the chances of injury to
them is increased manifold.
Drugs prescribed to relieve pain or relax muscles in backache
disorders do not cure common
back problems. These can become habit forming and may actually perpetuate the disease in
case of excessive intake.
Certain safety measures , especially, for people in sedentary occupation, are necessary to
relieve and prevent backache
. The most important of these is exercise which improves the
supply of nutrients to spinal discs, thereby delaying the process of deterioration that comes with
age and eventually affects everybody. Safe exercises include walking, swimming and bicycling.
The latter should be done keeping the back upright. Controlling one's weight is another
important step towards relieving backache
as excess weight greatly increases the stress
Those with sedentary occupations should take a break to stand up every hour. Soft cushioned
seats should be avoided and position should be changed as often as possible. Persons with
back problems should sleep on a firm mattress on their sides with knees bent at right angles to
the torso. They should take care never to bend from the waist down to lift any object but instead
should swat close to the object, bending the knees but keeping the back straight, and then stand
Neck tension arising from long hours at the desk or behind the wheel of the car can be relieved
by certain neck exercises. These include rotating the head clockwise and anticlockwise, allowing
the head to drop forward and backward as far as possible and turning the head to the right and
left as far as possible several times. These exercises help to loosen up contracted neck muscles
which may restrict the blood supply to the head.
The diet of those suffering from backache
should consist of a salad of raw vegetables such as
tomato, carrot, cabbage, cucumber, radish, lettuce and at least two steamed or lightly cooked
vegetables such as cauliflower, cabbage, carrot, spinach and plenty of fruits, all except bananas.
The patients should have four meals daily. They may take fruits and milk during breakfast,
steamed vegetables and whole wheat chapatis during lunch, fresh fruits or fruit juice in the
evening and a bowl of raw salad and sprouts during dinner.
The patients should avoid fatty, spicy, and fried foods, curd, sweetmeats, sugar, condiments as
well as tea and coffee. Those who smoke and take tobacco in any form should give them up
and vitamin C are necessary for the development of a healthy bone metrix. Vitamin D,
calcium, phosphorous and the essential trace minerals are essential for healthy bones. Foods
that have been processed for storage to avoid spoiling have few nutrients and should be
eliminated from the diet. Vitamin C has proved helpful in relieving low-back pain and averting
spinal disc operations.
Hot fomentations, alternate sponging or application of radiant heat to the back will also give
immediate relief. Yogic asanas which are beneficial in the treatment of backache
bhujangasana, shalabhasana, halasana, uttanpadasana and shavasana.
The back can be strengthened through proper nutrition, exercise and relaxation and in the
process general health will also improve.