The health care community is now in the age of prevention, and patients are now being asked to take an active role in their own recovery to ensure treatment success. Today’s medical community is diligently educating the public in topics such as nutrition and exercise, and – for those experiencing back pain – preventive back care measures.
For years, back and neck problems were treated without the benefit of knowing or addressing the causes of recurring pain. Therapies to relieve pain were not given with education in daily prevention, and pain would often return. Doctors had only the “triggering events” like lifting to blame, and educated patients to modify or avoid these behaviors.
However, the sheer numbers affected by back and neck problems point to the presence of common daily causes that touch all lives.
One primary cause is that of poor resting postures. Every day doctors would listen to their patients describe their problems caused or aggravated by the excessive “mechanical stress” of poor posture. Imaging studies using M.R.I. and C.T. showed that the majority of spinal joint deformities are worsened by flexion stresses (being bent forward).
To understand this, look at the design of spinal tissues. The spine is made up of four different tissues performing diverse mechanical work:
The disc: Sitting in-between the vertebra contains a jelly-like material that shifts around. This changes the disc shape allowing the spine to change positions. In sitting or standing each disc also transfers the majority of the weight placed on the vertebra above them to the vertebra below them passing the weight down to the pelvis.
The muscles: Attached to the back of the vertebra, they contract (shorten) to either pull or sustain the spine in place.
The ligaments: Strap-like bands running up and down the length of the spine connecting the entire vertebra together. Their purpose is to stabilize and limit movement when the spine is bent to the end of its ranges.
The vertebra: These bones of the spine bear weight like the foundation of a house. The muscles attach to them for movement, and they contain and protect our delicate spinal cord.
Having the entire system in good working order is necessary for total back health. A particular incident will usually just hurt one part of the back, while poor posture is a detriment to all four. This is why posture – not just one particular harmful event – is the most common cause of back pain.
For more on back-related health conditions, please visit our Pain Relief Center.