Back Strain and Spine Health Issues

Back pain and spine health issues affect many people during their working and exercising life. It is a very common cause of disability and sickness absence with serious consequences for the individual and industry. While a severe accident such as falling or crushing may result in gross back injury the onset of pain is more often associated with repetitive and cumulative accidental and postural stresses, and then lead to serious spine health issues.

The back is a complex system which includes the spine, spinal cord, nerves and muscles according to spine anatomy. The spine supports the weight of the head, most of the trunk and upper limbs. It is composed of 33 bone segments (vertebrae) of which those in the pelvis and coccyx are fused together. Those in the neck, chest and lumbar region possess a limited degree of mobility with respect to one another. Each vertebra consists of a body in front and an arch behind, bearing various bony projections (processes), to which are attached powerful muscles and strong ligaments. The space enclosed by the vertebral body and arch is known as the spinal canal. Between the vertebral bodies are discs (intervertebral discs) composed of a tough outer ligamentous covering and a central core of plastic, viscous tissue (nucleus). The disc is weight bearing, but is sufficiently compressible and flexible to absorb shock and to permit a limited degree of bending and twisting of the spine.

The spinal cord is a cable of nerves running from the brain down through the spinal canal and controlling all activities below neck level. Nerves branching out from the spinal cord send information to the brain and orders to the muscles. There are about 800 muscles producing motions in all directions and they are attached to the bone by over 4 000 tendons.

Repeated spinal stress may cause disruption and degeneration of the intervertebral discs in the lower back (lumbar region) with rupture of the covering of the intervertebral disc and projection of part of the nucleus into the spinal canal where it may compress nerve roots and cause pain in the thigh, calf and foot (sciatica). Most cases of persistent or recurrent low back pain of spine health issues are caused by intervertebral disc degeneration disease.
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