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Backpain: Everything You Need to Know

A person clutching his pained lower back

Back pain is a prevalent problem that affects many people globally. It can range from dull aches to debilitating pain, decreasing the quality of life. Furthermore, there are many causes for it. As such, most people are likely to experience backaches at one point. The causes include muscle strain, injuries, and medical conditions. Fortunately, people can use various treatments, such as hot and cold therapy, pain medicines, manual therapy, surgery, and electrotherapy.

Proper care is crucial to avoid or minimise the pain from developing back problems. In particular, exercising can keep individuals in a healthy body weight and improve muscle strength. Furthermore, by equipping themselves with knowledge about backaches, they can also use the treatment that works best for them. This article will present information on the impact of backaches on daily life, the main causes, and how to treat it.

Prevalence and Impact of Back Pain on Daily Life

Back pain is a common health issue that affects individuals of all ages worldwide. In Australia, about 1 out of 6 people report to have back problems. Most people will likely experience this type of pain at some point in their lives. There are various causes for this, including poor posture and medical conditions that can contribute to persistent pain.

Backaches can be debilitating. It can lead to significant limitations in mobility, affecting work productivity and even daily activities. Individuals with chronic backaches may struggle with simple tasks, such as lifting objects, sitting for long periods, or even walking. This can be a significant issue when it interferes with work since it can lead to unemployment.

Furthermore, chronic pain can also affect the mental well-being of the person. Some people develop mental health illnesses, such as anxiety and depression, due to the stress from their condition. Overall, bodily pain from backaches can cause a significant decrease in the quality of life.

Medical Conditions that Can Contribute to It

  • Sciatica: caused by injury or pressure to the sciatic nerve. This can cause neuropathic pain and tingling sensations from the lower back to the legs.
  • Fibromyalgia: a chronic condition that causes widespread musculoskeletal pain, general fatigue, and tenderness.
  • Scoliosis: a condition characterised by a sideways curve on the spine. The larger the curves, the more likely it is to cause chronic backaches.
  • Ankylosing spondylitis: an inflammatory condition in the spine. It is an autoimmune disease that can cause permanent back stiffness.
  • Spinal stenosis: occurs when the spinal canal in the lower back narrows and causes pressure to the spine.

A woman sitting up from bed and holding her back

Main Causes of Back Pain

There are several causes of back pain, which is why people are likely to experience it regardless of their normal activities. Firstly, muscle strain or injury. This can be due to overusing the muscles from training or work. It can also occur with repeated heavy lifting without using proper technique and overall poor posture. Moreover, exceeding the healthy weight can also put additional stress on the back.

Secondly, muscle weakness. A lack of regular exercise may cause the muscles to atrophy and become unable to support the body while doing everyday activities. This applies to not only the back muscles but the abdominal muscles as well.

Thirdly, degenerative disc diseases (DDD). Often, this naturally occurs as the person ages and the intervertebral discs deteriorate. It typically affects the lumbar spine and cervical spine and causes spinal pain and stiffness. An example of a DDD is a herniated disc. This is a common condition wherein one or more spinal discs protrude outward from a weakened part of the spine.

Common Symptoms

There are many symptoms of backaches. Most people feel dull aches that cause discomfort and stiffness. This can lead to a limited range of motion and make it difficult to conduct everyday activities. Some may feel more severe pain due to sudden and sharp pain in specific areas of the back.

Meanwhile, some may experience muscle spasms or painful muscle contractions. This tightening sensation can lead to cramps. Lastly, radiating pain can be indicative of an underlying condition. This symptom may cause arm, neck, shoulder, or leg pain. Some more concerning symptoms would include unexplained weight loss and bowel issues.

Woman using a TENS machine on the back

How to Treat Back Pain

People may use several home remedies and medical treatments to help with back pain. Many use hot and cold therapy by applying hot or cold packs to the affected area. Cold packs can help reduce inflammation and numb the area, while heat packs can increase blood flow and promote healing.

For medical treatments, many use over-the-counter pain medications to alleviate mild to moderate aches. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are a common option for this. Some may also consult health professionals for prescription drugs for severe pain, especially those linked with other health conditions. Other people also turn to physical therapy and exercise programs. These can help increase muscle strength and alleviate the pressure on the spine.

For more serious conditions, some may opt for more invasive procedures, such as injections or surgery. This may depend on the advice of the healthcare provider after conducting a thorough physical examination and other tests. Lastly, Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) is a non-invasive form of electrotherapy that can provide effective pain relief.

A Closer Look at TENS Treatment

TENS therapy uses low-voltage electrical impulses to trigger various mechanisms in the body to temporarily alleviate pain. It is an effective pain treatment that people can use for chronic and acute pain conditions. TENS machines typically have adjustable settings, which users can customise depending on their needs.

High-frequency stimulation can trigger the pain gate mechanism, which blocks pain signals from reaching the brain. Meanwhile, low-frequency stimulation induces endorphin production, reducing the overall pain levels. Endorphins can also reduce inflammation and stress levels, improving moods and mobility. Lastly, TENS can improve blood flow and reduce muscle tension.


Back pain is a common problem that many people deal with daily. Some may feel dull aches and stiffness, while some may experience severe pain from muscle spasms and cramps. Common causes for it include muscle strain, injuries, and muscle weakness. Some medical conditions can also contribute to backaches, such as scoliosis and ankylosing spondylitis. These can make physical activities difficult, affecting their mental health. It can also cause unemployment since debilitating pain may render individuals unable to work.

Common methods of treating backaches include hot and cold therapy, pain medications, and physical therapy. Some may also opt for surgery if needed. Others also use TENS machines to help alleviate their backaches. TENS therapy is a non-invasive and drug-free form of electrotherapy that provides effective relief by triggering mechanisms in the body, such as the pain gate mechanism and endorphin production. Individuals interested in a wireless TENS machine may consider the iTENS from iTENS Australia.

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