The human spine begins to form in the fifth week of intrauterine development and finally develops at the age of 20-25 years. And at the age of 30, only 1 person in a thousand can boast of a healthy spine. Almost the entire adult population in developed countries complains of some kind of back problem. Where do they come from?
The spine consists of 33-34 vertebrae located one on top of the other, connected in a single chain. Yes, oddly enough, the number of vertebrae varies from person to person. It doesn't depend on race, gender, or age, but just how high a person's tail fell. And this is not a joke: the difference in anatomy is actually due to the number of coccygeal vertebrae each of us inherited from the tail.
Inside the spinal column is the spinal cord, the main channel of communication between all parts of our body. The nerve endings that extend from the spinal cord are "wired" to each organ, to each limb and connect them to the "central computer" - the brain.
Almost all the muscles of the abdomen and chest are connected to the spine. And not just the ones we see in the mirror and swing in the simulators. In addition to superficial muscles, a person also has internal muscles that support internal organs, help resist gravity, and keep the body upright.
A flexible system of connection of the vertebrae allows a person to move: sit, bend, turn, turn the head. The "shock absorbers" (intervertebral discs) are placed between the vertebrae. These are flexible cartilages that soften the impact of steps and jumps, and prevent the vertebrae from hitting and rubbing against each other. Normally, intervertebral discs consist of a solid annulus fibrosus and a liquid nucleus pulposus. However, with various injuries and pathologies, its structure is disturbed, which leads to various diseases. As soon as a disk fails, problems begin.
Why does my back hurt?
Back problems are the price we are forced to pay for a measured and calm life, without the burden of physical work. An unnatural position of the body while working at a computer, many hours of immobility in the office and at home, the lack of adequate loads have the most detrimental effect on the state of the spine.
No less dangerous are internal traumatic factors: the quality of human tissues. It is placed in infancy and remains for the rest of your life. The quality of fabrics is determined by the volume of the load: the higher the load and the more natural it is, the denser the fabric. Children who are not allowed to move freely, who sit all day, buried in devices, grow loose like broilers that have spent their entire lives in a narrow cage.
As a result, the spine cannot support the loads that increase with age, leading to bending, fractures, compression, and hernias. It is impossible to completely correct the consequences of improper development, but it is never too late to start leading a correct lifestyle that is beneficial for the spine: eat well, move well, etc.
How does your back hurt?
Neck pain, pulled lower back, shot in the back. . . Most of us know these symptoms. In youth, when problems are just beginning, they are neglected. Also, at first, the unpleasant sensations are not constant. If it hurts, it will let you go, sometimes even for a long time. However, over time, back pain becomes more and more frequent.
Back problems are most often associated with several major spinal disorders.
- Protrusion and herniated intervertebral disc are, in fact, two stages of the same process. Due to various pathological factors, the intervertebral disc changes its structure and the nucleus pulposus begins to protrude. The annulus fibrosus takes a hit on itself and delays the process to some extent. Bulging of the intervertebral disc without rupture of the annulus fibrosus is called a spinal bulge. However, over time, if nothing is done, it does not hold the load and breaks. An intervertebral hernia occurs. Bulging back and to the side, it presses on the nerve root at the site of its exit from the spinal canal. Inflammation begins, accompanied by severe edema, incessant sharp pain. If the bulge is still amenable to conservative treatment, then the hernia is a direct route to the operating table.
- Osteochondrosis is a loss of elasticity, shape and consistency of the vertebral cartilage. With age, the vertebrae themselves change: outgrowths and spines appear, with the help of which the body tries to restore the damaged spine. Severe pain appears, limitation of mobility in the affected joints, neuralgia, etc.
- Spondylolisthesis: displacement of the vertebrae. The incorrect position of the back, sudden movements, heavy loads and microtrauma cause the upper vertebra to displace with respect to the lower one and pinch the intervertebral disc.
- Radiculitis: infringement of the roots of the spinal nerves. It can be a consequence of a herniated disc or the result of osteochondrosis. However, this disease often develops on its own. For example, due to age-related changes, the distance between the vertebrae can decrease and pinch the nerves.
- Scoliosis is a curvature of the spine. As a general rule, it is caused by a regular and prolonged stay in an awkward position, for example, if the computer monitor is strongly shifted to the side. Over time, the spine adapts to the conditions, choosing the most comfortable position for itself, but posture suffers from this, and with significant curvature of the spine during movements, severe pain occurs.
The main and most notable symptom of all these diseases is severe back pain. They start and end differently for each person. Sometimes a person feels pain after a long period of immobility, for example, in the morning after sleeping. In other people, pain, on the contrary, appears during movement. In the third, while remaining in a certain position, for example, lying face down. The nature of pain is also varied: from a dull ache to "shooting" instantly throughout the body.
Another characteristic symptom is rapid fatigue and the desire to rest, even with small loads. To this can be added several symptoms of a neurological nature. For example, numbness in the limbs, muscle weakness, etc.
With the deformation of the spine, the spinal cord and the nerve endings that extend from it suffer. Due to this, the conduction of the nerve impulse to the corresponding organ is interrupted, which affects its work.
In addition, the ligamentous apparatus attached to the spine, which supports the interior in a certain position, is altered. Due to this, there is a displacement of organs and a violation of their functions.
Watch your back when you're young!
What can you do to keep your back relatively healthy for as long as possible? In absolutely healthy it will not work: the way of life we lead is so contrary to that for which nature designed the spine, that sooner or later everyone has back problems. However, it is possible and necessary to smooth them. First, let's find out what factors negatively affect the column.
- A sedentary lifestyle causes the muscles, which ideally should support the spine, to weaken and stop working.
- Excess weight is a constant load that puts pressure on the spine. Imagine that you are constantly walking with a backpack that weighs 10 kilograms or even more.
- Staying in the wrong posture for a long time, especially sitting. The European custom of sitting in a chair or armchair is the most unnatural position for our body. This increases the static load on the column and alters its natural curves.
- Incorrect posture.
- Lifting heavy weights causes microtrauma to the spine and compression of the intervertebral discs.
- Inadequate diet and lack of vitamins.
Now is the time to tell you what your spine wants to feel good about.
- By reducing your weight, you will reduce the strain on your spine.
- Learn to lift and carry weights correctly. Don't carry weights with your arms outstretched or in one hand. A backpack is better than a bag!
- Don't neglect physical activity. Including - and morning exercises.
- Walking, oriental practices, joint gymnastics are helpful. But don't overdo it - sharp bends and intense rotations can hurt your back. If possible, hang from the horizontal bar, this stretches the spine.
- If possible, learn to ride. Hippotherapy is even used for back injury rehabilitation. The movements a person performs while sitting in the chair relieve the vertebrae and strengthen the back muscles.
- Avoid negative emotions - they cause muscle tension, which can lead to back pain.
- Sleep in the right bed. In case of posture problems, the mattress should be quite hard, but if the discs bother you, you cannot sleep on a hard one: the mattress should be of medium hardness and fix the position of the body. It is better to choose a special orthopedic pillow. This will allow your back muscles to relax as much as possible while you sleep.
- Eat well. Spinal diseases require giving up fatty, smoked, spicy and especially salty foods. Salt is deposited in bones and joints and leads to many diseases of the spine.
- Drink water. Supports the cushioning capacity of the intervertebral discs.
- Drink vitamins. A and D regulate the metabolism of calcium and phosphorus, responsible for bone density. Vitamin C is responsible for the production of a fibrillar protein that is responsible for connecting the cells of the bones. However, vitamins B1, B6 and B12 are the most important for the spine.
Back and sports
Traditionally, it is believed that in case of problems with the spine, those types of physical activity where there is an uncontrolled multidirectional load on the back are not shown. This includes all game sports, strength training, and martial arts.
However, the modern view of the problem is somewhat more flexible: there are no strict restrictions on the choice of sport for back problems. It all depends on the degree of rehabilitation of the person. If you have back problems, but you want to do some kind of sport, the same karate or soccer, you can act according to the following scheme: we go to the coach for a test lesson, where we express our health restrictions. Then we become familiar with the expected loads, and with this knowledge we go to a specialist (sports doctor, osteopath, orthopedic traumatologist, etc. ) for advice. If necessary, a specialist will prescribe methods of functional rehabilitation, for example, exercise therapy, massage, etc. , and will also indicate the amount of loads allowed and safe in its condition.
If you carefully monitor your body, work with competent trainers, and are observed by the appropriate doctors, a person can afford physical activity in almost any sport without harm to health, including those that are traditionally not recommended. Even after severe spinal injuries, with proper rehabilitation, people return not only to active lives, but to professional sports as well.
Types of physical activity that include slow, controlled movements: Pilates, neurodynamic gymnastics, qigong, callanetics, yoga, and the like will be helpful in maintaining normal back muscles. Swimming, water aerobics, non-combat wushu, and horsemanship also positively influence back work. The main thing: do not forget to treat your body carefully and rationally and to recognize in time the "signals of distress" that your back sends. If you experience muscle pinching, pain, stiffness, or limited movement, this is an important reason to see a specialist. By saving on consultations, you risk serious problems later.
Where to go for treatment?
Doctors say that it is the spinal diseases to which the anti-registration of self-medication and self-diagnosis belongs. Back hurts - the person immediately decides: “Yes, osteochondrosis. We must go to a chiropractor ”.
Meanwhile, the spine can hurt in exactly the same way with completely different pathologies. Both in those in which manual therapy is needed, and in those in which it is categorically contraindicated and can even lead to disability!
Also, back pain feels exactly the same as osteochondrosis! - may be secondary. The pain signal travels along the nerves from the affected organ to the spinal cord and from there to the brain. Due to this, the muscles surrounding the corresponding area of the spine spasm, their mobility is limited, blood circulation deteriorates, and edema may begin. For example, if you feel pain in the middle of the thoracic spine after eating, it could be a manifestation of a stomach ulcer. And neither manual therapy nor massage will help at all here!
Therefore, if your back hurts, you should see a neurologist, neuropathologist, or a more limited specialist - a vertebrologist. You will be prescribed an exam, an MRI, a CT scan, or in extreme cases an X-ray, and then you can find out what hurts, why it hurts, and what to do next.