Muscular Back Pain


The spinal column is one of your body’s main supports.

It is made up of 33 small bones called vertebrae – these protect your spinal cord.

In the upper part of the spine there are 7 cervical vertebrae making up the neck, 12 thoracic vertebrae making up the upper back region, 5 lumbar vertebrae making up the lower back, the 5 sacral vertebrae are fused to form the sacrum and the 4 coccygeal vertebrae are fused making up the coccyx.

These upper 24 vertebrae are separated from each other by pads of cartilage called intervertebral discs.  These have a tough, flexible outer case with soft, jelly-like centre and are designed to act as shock absorbers, cushioning the vertebrae from sudden jolts.

Back Pain most commonly affects the lower, lumbar region of the spine.  Most cases are due to excessive strain on muscles, ligaments and small joints.

As well as discomfort from the damaged tissues, the surrounding muscle may go into spasm so pain and tenderness spread over a larger area making it difficult to pinpoint the primary cause of the pain.  More severe symptoms will occur if the soft, jelly-like centre of an intervertebral disc ruptures through the outer fibrous coating under pressure – a condition popularly known as a slipped disc.

The prolapsed centre of the disc may press on the root of a spinal; nerve to cause muscle weakness, pins and needles, spasm and severe pain in the back.  If the sciatic nerve is irritated, pain will shoot down the leg – pain will also be felt in the calf muscle.

Back pain is most likely to affect people whose work involves heavy lifting or carrying, or who spend long periods of time sitting in one position of bending awkwardly.  Almost any day to day activity can bring it on, however, including housework, gardening, and over vigorous exercise.

1.         Being over weight
2.         Unfit = poor muscle tone
3.         Weak abdominal muscles
4.         Sudden activity
5.         Direct trauma

Treating your Backache

1.         Seek medical advise – physio
2.         Reduce pain
3.         Try to lose any excess weight and improve your level of physical fitness
4.         Try to remain active, as early mobilisation is essential to stop your back
            seizing up
5.         If pain continues ask to have an X-Ray or MRI Scan
6.         Physiotherapy, Sports Massage

It is essential that your muscle tone improves to support your back, but a good diagnosis must be determined before treatment can start and be most affective.