Do you feel pain in your back? Every second visit to the orthopaedist and every tenth visit to the family doctor has its cause in back problems. Since they are very often accompanied by pain, one speaks also of backache, which can be distinguished more accurately as neck or spinal pains.As frequent as back pain is, it only leads to serious permanent complaints in 2% of all cases. The following sections give you an overview of back and spine diseases that can cause back pain.
The spine is firmly enclosed by muscles and thus held upright. The muscles move the spine in all directions determined by the anatomy of the spine. At the same time, the spine is stabilized by ligaments. Additionally the vertebral joints are held together by a fixed joint capsule. The interaction of all these parts is responsible for a harmonious movement.
The complicated spinal column system reacts quite similarly to quite different disorders. Whoever or whatever triggered the pain, the pain stimulus first leads to a reflex-like muscle tension. If the stimulus continues, the muscles cramp and tension develops. It hurts on its part and ensures that the neighbouring sections of the spine are also included in the pain process. A vicious circle is created that strengthens and maintains itself independently of the initial stimulus.
It is remarkable that even longer mental tensions can put our lumbar muscles in such a strong tension readiness that it can result in back pain.
Before the start of each treatment, the initial diagnosis is verified. In addition to the medical history and the clinical examination, a large number of additional examinations such as X-rays, computer tomography or magnetic resonance imaging are available as step-by-step diagnostics to find the cause of the back pain. Neurologists also carry out electrical examinations of the nerve functions.
The conservative treatment consists of many aspects:
Drug therapy is initiated as a step therapy depending on the intensity of the complaint and consists of anti-inflammatory, muscle-relaxing and/or pain-relieving drugs. No medication should be taken without medical advice.
Back bandages as an active support: Generally speaking back bandages have a muscle-activating and pain-relieving effect. They do not weaken the back muscles, as is often wrongly assumed.
Rest in the acute phase: The best position for relaxation is the stepped bed position in which the spine is relieved.
Heat treatment: The musculature is relaxed by heat. Fango packs, hot roll or red light are applications used by the physiotherapist. But they can also become active on their own and, for example, take a warm bath or put a damp, warmed towel on their backs and then crawl under the blanket. The “Kirschkernsäckle” or the simple hot-water bottle is a good choice – it is often most pleasant on the stomach, from there the warmth goes gently into the back.
Chirotherapy/manual medicine: a targeted grip restores the mobility of the spine, for example in blockades.
Massages: vibration, stroking, knocking, rubbing and kneading techniques can promote muscle relaxation.
Electrotherapy: direct current, various alternating currents and TENS therapy improve blood circulation and relieve back pain by activating or relaxing the muscles.
Physiotherapy: special movements can improve the harmony of the individual components of the spine. By improving the muscular strength and relaxing the shortened, tense muscles, the mobility and load capacity of the spine is improved. At the same time, a relapse is prevented and a balanced trunk musculature is built up (complementary medical measures)
Mental relaxation: Anger or excitement in professional or private life are often the reason for tension in the back (“carrying one’s back”). Yoga, Tai Chi, Qigong, “Feldenkreis”, Alexander Technique, autogenic training and progressive muscle relaxation according to Jacobsen have proven their worth. Psychotherapy can also help with deeper psychological disorders.
Back school: In the back school you learn to protect your back from unnecessary strain and to prevent a new lumbago. It is a guide to self-help and, in addition to gymnastic exercises to strengthen muscles and mobility, it also aims to impart knowledge about back-friendly behaviour. Back schools are offered in physiotherapeutic practices and by health insurance companies.