If you are reading these lines searching for an orientation about the back pain but you don’t feel pain yet or, if it ever hurt you, you are feeling all right and without pain, I’ll try to give you a guide and some advices to understand the back pain so you’ll be able to prevent it in a better position.
You must understand the work to prevent the back pain as your own responsibility and only through the learning of several concepts and the following of the guidelines to a series of exercises you can keep your back in a healthy condition and you will only need the help of a physiotherapist in order to maintain your good shape or prolong your well-being, without the need to be under treatment.
The first basic concept to keep in mind is that the vertebral column (or spine) is the axis of the back and though in a frontal plane (body seen from the front) the column must be straight and its components (the vertebrae) one on top of the other without leaning, which would lead to a greater or lesser degree of scoliosis, in a sagittal plane (seen from one side) the column does possess a series of physiological curvatures who are completely normal: two go forward, named lordosis, and other two go backward, named kyphosis. If in this latter plane the column appears straight or too pronounced curvatures, a series of problems would appear that will overload the muscles and, very likely, will provoke pain in some way when the subject adopts a certain posture.
Between the vertebrae, we have the intervertebral discs. They are like small cushions that soften the weight from the upper levels so the lower the position of the disc is the larger size it has. In adition, they allow the movements of one level upon the next because they are structures that form a wedge when a vertebra leans to make a move and they are also capable to permit a light torsion when we rotate (or turn) thanks to its concentric circles structure. As we see, these structures are essential so that the column can move and, in turn, they will be the structural axis areas that can get injured more easily.
If we come to the case where one disc gets injured, either a partial or complete hernia, the irradiated pain is because this structure starts to rub the nerves that leave from the spinal canal (the spinal cord is protected by the vertebrae and the nerves part from it to supply the whole body) and, therefore, depending on the level where the hernia is, it’ll give a different symptomatology that spreads through certain limb areas that help the health professional to locate the origin of the injury.
The discs are fibrocartilaginous structures that heal very slowly so, in extreme cases, they may need surgery for their recovery. If this is the case, the physiotherapist can do a palliative treatment until surgery y, after that, can focus his efforts in order to help the patient into a faster recovery and in the most functional state as possible.