Saturday, January 14, 2006


Back pain afflicts as many as four out of five adults at least once during their lives. It is one of the leading causes of hospitalization and lost work days to industry. The majority of back pain results from stress, physical exertion, and muscle strain. Pain is a symptom of injury. Tense muscles do not have the flexibility to function properly and may pull or tear, causing inflammation and pain. Ligaments, the tough elastic tissues that connect bone to bone, are subjected to the same strains that muscles are and can suffer similar injuries. Though muscle strain is the most common cause of backaches, disk disease is another common disorder, particularly in the elderly. The disks are the back's shock absorbers and are sandwiched between the vertebrae to provide cushioning and flexibility. In the middle of the disk is a jellylike material that is held in place by tough, fibrous bands that surround the disk. As people age, these bands lose some of their strength and elasticity. They may become brittle and prone to injury. Rest is the primary course of treatment though surgery may be necessary to repair a ruptured disk. The most important consideration for a healthy back is prevention of injury. Proper exercise, weight control, diet, good posture, and adequate rest all contribute to a healthy back.

Gutman, R. The Healthy Back Book. Chicago: Blue Cross/Blue Shield, 1986.


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