What should I know about back pain?
Back pain is a very common problem and will affect many of us at some point during our lives.
The good news is that in most cases it isn’t a serious problem, and it might just be caused by a simple strain to a muscle or ligament.
As far as possible, it’s best to continue with your normal everyday activities as soon as you can and to keep moving.
Being active and exercising won’t make your back pain worse, even if you have a bit of pain and discomfort at first. Staying active will help you get better. Taking painkillers can help you do this.
How your back works
The spine, which is also called the backbone or spinal column, is one of the strongest parts of the body and gives us a great deal of flexibility and strength.
It’s made up of 24 bones, known as vertebrae, one sitting on top of the other. These bones have discs in between and lots of strong ligaments and muscles around them for support. There are also the bones in the tailbone at the bottom of the back, which are fused together and have no discs in between.
On either side of the spine, running from top to bottom, are many small joints called the facet joints.
The spinal cord passes inside the vertebrae, which protect it.
The spinal cord connects to the brain through the base of the skull and to the rest of the body by nerves that pass through spaces between the bones of the spine. These nerves are also known as nerve roots.
As you grow older, the structures of your spine, such as the joints, discs and ligaments, age as well. The structures remain strong but it’s usual for your back to get stiffer as you get older.