What is the reason for upper back pain?

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July 12, 2018
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July 12, 2018
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What is the reason for upper back pain?

Whether the pain sits in the lower back (low back pain), in the neck (cervicalgia) or more rarely in the middle back (back pain), the mechanism is the same. Originally, there is usually an anatomical lesion of the intervertebral disk, type tear or degeneration, caused or aggravated by the carrying of heavy loads or the repetition of gestures.

The mechanisms of pain

The posterior portion of the intervertebral disc may be damaged and this lesion stimulates small nerves that propagate pain impulses to the muscles, ligaments and nerves. The neck pain can radiate into the shoulder, elbow, hand or shoulder blades, and lumbar disorder cause pain in the calves.

When this pain persists for more than six weeks, it becomes chronic: it is often less intense, but leaves little respite to those who suffer from it.

The most affected area: the lumbar

Intense pain, “like a stabbing”, then a blockage of the lower back, characterize acute low back pain, the most frequent back pain. Located between the 12th rib and the crease of the buttocks, low back pain can be the result of brutal efforts (moving, gardening, earthwork) or too frequent forced gestures (to look at a patient, to lift bedridden people, to work with arms). stretched in the air) as found in the professions of carer, painter or beautician.

Acute low back pain affects slightly more workers and craftsmen who make repetitive gestures and carry more heavy loads. On the other hand, the risk that this affection is transformed into chronic low back pain is identical for the executives and the workers. More often, a crack or a slump of the intervertebral discs is at the origin of these lumbago.

Low back pain, lumbago, and sciatica

Another well-known pain: the one that starts in the lower back and radiates in the buttock, even in the leg. Provoked by irritation of one of the roots of the sciatic nerve, it is characteristic … of sciatica. There is a continuum between the three, over time. It begins with low back pain, until the day when the disc herniation occurs  , it occurs when a disc, crushed between two vertebrae, comes out of its original position and compresses the nerve root. Very painful, it causes an alteration of the sensitivity of the lower limbs, or even difficulties to move.

From 40 years old: osteoarthritis

Last great cause of low back pain: osteoarthritis . This progressive wear of the articular cartilage of the vertebrae causes stiffness and pain that become chronic. The most affected are the very arched people, from 40-50 years old. More so if they are overweight, because this excess fat causes abdominal melting.

After the age of 60, low back pain is all the more frequent as disc problems and osteoarthritis are often combined. The main consequence is narrowing of the lumbar canal (which in particular contains the nerves for the lower limbs, such as sciatic nerves) and claudication which causes sciatic nerve pain when walking, which makes long walks impossible. Doctors talk about lumbar stenosis syndrome.

Cervical pain

The cervical vertebrae are the most vulnerable of the spine. Their function is to support the head, while ensuring its mobility. They are therefore very busy and often abused.

Osteoarthritis is the main cause of neck pain, or neck pain. This degeneration of the cartilage joints reduces the mobility of the neck and causes pain that radiates into the arm.

When a major osteoarthritis combines with a bad work posture, in front of the computer for example, it can, in the most serious cases, lead to a narrowing of the medullary canal (where the spinal cord passes) associated with the compression of the nerve roots from the spinal cord (cervicarthrosis myelopathy). The person suffers from neck and shoulder pain that is accompanied by stiffness and urge to urinate, then mild paralysis of the lower limbs.

Watch out for the “whiplash”

When cervical pain comes from a disc problem, they are usually consecutive to trauma such as “whiplash” (cervical disc herniation). Muscle wrinkling, caused for example by overloading or over-exerting during the practice of a sport, can also cause neck pain. Similarly, a persistent torticollis sometimes reflects an underlying mechanical pathology, in response to an osteoarthritis attack or a maltreated disc.

Poor positions taken during sleep or at work are also identified as causes of more or less severe neck pain. Back specialists strongly advise against sleeping on your stomach, leaning your head forward to work on a computer, or pinching the phone between your ear and shoulder to take notes during communication.

The pains in the middle of the back: rarer

Back pain is the middle of the back to the root of the neck. Unlike low back pain and neck pain, they are very rarely associated with osteoarthritis or discs.

It is necessary to look for something other than a mechanical problem and to make a complete and very precise assessment. This may be a sign of spondyloarthritis (inflammatory disease of the spine) that wakes up at night, or serious conditions of other organs (pancreatic cancer, aortic aneurysms …) that cause back pain. It’s rare, but it exists.

Monitor the back of his child

It is not normal for a child to have back pain. If he complains, consult his doctor. His pain may be related to intensive sports such as gymnastics, riding, judo or rugby. The lower back is subject to regular stresses that, over time, can crack the back of a vertebra. She can then slide forward (spondylolisthesis).

Consequence: a very acute pain that persists, requiring immobilization to consolidate the vertebra. In pre-teens, depending on the location of the pain and the way in which they manifest themselves, the doctor will suspect more spondylarthritis (inflammatory disease of the spine) or Scheuermann disease, a common abnormality of growth of the vertebrae, forcing the wearing of a corset in adolescence.

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