Back pain is most common in the lower back as this is the section that takes most of the strain when you bend, twist, and lift things. No matter how fit you are, it is possible to twist your back and cause yourself an injury. In fact, it often happens totally unexpectedly when you aren’t exerting yourself significantly.
You’re certainly not alone, it’s estimated that 4 million Australians suffer from back issues and the problem is getting worse.
One concern that most sufferers have is whether back pain can lead to disability or not.
The short answer is yes, lower back pain can lead to disabilities.
How Back Pain Results In Disabilities
Your back is made up of small bones, known as vertebras, stacked on top of each other. There are at least thirty. The bones give your body strength and help you to stay upright. Between each vertebra is a small cushion that allows the spine to move in almost any direction without the bones rubbing on each other.
Through the middle of the vertebra is a hole. This creates a channel that houses the spinal cord. That’s the mechanism that allows communication between your brain and the muscles and other components of your body.
There are four sections to the spine:
- Cervical or neck section consisting of 7 vertebrae – C1-C7
- Thoracic region, also known as the upper back with 12 vertebrae – T1-T12
- Lumbar section, i.e. the lower back. This is five vertebrae, L1-L5
- Sacrum & Coccyx, the base of the spine and the bones here are fused together
Damage to any of these sections should be checked by your doctor. If there are issues that need to be monitored and treated they will refer you to a reputable neurosurgeon. The good news is there are plenty of treatment options before surgery, with surgery being a last resort. The sooner you discuss the issue with them the better the outcome is likely to be.
- Excessive Pain
The spinal cord is a thick bundle of nerves and electrotransmitters. It allows signals to be sent from the brain to all parts of the body, controlling functions such as moving muscles.
The vertebra is designed to protect the spinal cord. However, if your lower back pain is a result of damage to the vertebrae or the associated cushions, the area will become inflamed. This places pressure on the spinal cord. Because the nerves have pressure on them, they will send signals to the brain, telling you that you’re in pain.
The pain can be deliberating, preventing you from moving or performing daily chores. Providing the back heals the pain will subside and the disability will be temporary. However, if the inflammation is extensive the pressure on the nerves can permanently damage them, causing a loss of sensation below that point in your body.
- Damaged spinal cord
The easiest way to damage your spinal cord is through trauma. Any damage to this area risks severing nerves and transmitters. If this happens you’ll lose feeling in the lower part of your body and it is unlikely that a surgeon will be able to repair it, making the disability permanent.
That’s why it’s essential that you see a specialist instead of living with back pain.