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It is one of the leading causes of disability in the world.

Back pain is the discomfort characterized by a sensation of muscular tension or stiffness located in the back of the trunk, influenced by posture, movement and efforts, which are sometimes associated with pain radiating to the arm or leg, and usually they are accompanied by painful limitation of mobility.

Luckily, you can take steps to prevent or alleviate most episodes of back pain. If prevention fails, a simple home treatment and proper body mechanics will often heal your back within a few weeks and keep it functional. Surgery is rarely required to treat back pain.


When to see a doctor

In most cases, back pain progressively improves with home treatment and personal care, usually within a few weeks. Contact your doctor if your back pain:

  • Persists after a couple of weeks

  • It is intense and does not improve with rest

  • It spreads to one or both legs, especially if it extends below the knee

  • Causes weakness, numbness, or tingling in one or both legs

  • It is accompanied by weight loss with no apparent cause


In rare cases, back pain may indicate a medical problem   serious. Seek immediate medical attention if your back pain:

  • Causes new bladder or bowel problems

  • Is accompanied by fever

  • Appears after a fall, a blow to the back, or other injury


Back pain usually appears without a cause that your doctor can identify with an analysis or imaging study. Some of the disorders frequently related to back pain include the following:

  • Muscle or ligament strain. Repeatedly lifting heavy objects or making a sudden wrong move can strain your back muscles and spinal ligaments. If your physical condition is not good, constant strain on your back can cause painful muscle spasms.

  • Disc bulging or rupture. The discs work as shock absorbers between the bones (vertebrae) of the spine. The soft material inside the disc can bulge or break and put pressure on a nerve. However, you can have a bulging or ruptured disc without feeling back pain. Discopathy is often discovered accidentally when, for some other reason, you take an X-ray of your spine.

  • Arthritis. Osteoarthritis can affect the lower back. In some cases, arthritis of the spine can reduce the space around the spinal cord, a condition called "spinal stenosis."

  • Osteoporosis. The vertebrae in your spine can be exposed to painful fractures if your bones become porous and brittle.



To avoid back pain or prevent its recurrence, you could improve your physical condition and learn proper body mechanics and practice it.

To keep your back strong and healthy, you can try the following:

  • Exercise. Regular low-impact aerobic activities, those that do not strain or strain the back, may increase the endurance and strength of the back and allow the muscles to function better. Walking and swimming are good options. Talk to your doctor about activities you can try.

  • Develop muscle strength and flexibility. Exercises for the abdominal and back muscles, which strengthen the trunk of the body, help develop these muscles so that they work as a natural girdle for your back.

  • Keep a healthy weight. Being overweight puts pressure on your back muscles. If you are overweight, losing weight can prevent back pain.

  • Stop smoking. Smoking increases the risk of low back pain. Your risk increases with the number of cigarettes you smoke per day, so quitting reduces your risk.


Avoid rotational movements or pressure on your back. Use your body properly:

  • Stand up good Do not stoop. Maintain a neutral pelvic position. If you must stand for a long time, place one foot on a low footrest to take some of the weight off your lower back. Alternate feet. Good posture can reduce stress on your back muscles.

  • Sit well. Choose a seat that has good lower back support, armrests, and a swivel base. To maintain its normal curve, place a pillow or rolled towel on your lower back. Keep your knees and hips level. Change your position frequently, at least every half hour.

  • Lift weights wisely. If possible, avoid lifting heavy objects, but if you must, do it in such a way that the force is delivered by the legs. Keep your back straight, not hunched, and bend only your knees. Place the object close to the body. If the object is heavy or uncomfortable to lift, find someone to help you.

Dr. Alfonso Lozada

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