Workplace Safety Guides

   Why Back Problems Occur


Forward bending of the spine causes the ligaments in the back, which are weaker, to become tight. This is especially evident in the lower back where the most support is needed. Painful sprains are caused by bending, lifting, or prolonged stretching.

The hamstring muscle runs from below the knee, up the back of the thigh, and connects to the pelvis in conjunction with the buttocks muscles. This powerful muscle propels us forward when we walk or run and is responsible for the posture of the lower back

Discs can be injured by vertebrae applying pressure to one side when the back is bowed out. Muscles and ligaments can also be injured by over stretching.

One to two percent of back problems can be directly related to a disc hernia or rupture, which is commonly called a "slipped disc." In truth, discs can't slip because they are attached to the vertebrae.

Bending, twisting, or injury can cause accumulated or immediate stress on discs. Excessive bending or twisting can cause the strands of the cartilage-like wall to weaken and split.

A jelly-like substance that is in the center of the disc will then flow between the strands, causing a herniated disc. A ruptured disc develops when the jelly substance works its way out and presses on a nerve.

Herniation commonly happens in the lumbar region and the back of the spine where the disc wall is thinner. The amount of pain experienced is determined by where the herniated material goes and how hard it presses on a nerve.

During the normal aging process, changes with our discs occur. They become cracked and lose much of their center substance. Vertebrae come closer together and can create pain when excessive movement causes inflammation of the joints or irritation of the nerves.

People approximately 40 or 50 years of age with this condition will have more pain than those in their 60s and 70s when the back is stiffer. Individuals with this condition will have to make changes in the way they live, work, and play to allow for the limited strength and flexibility.

If they don't make changes, they may continue to produce their own pain or become psychologically disturbed because they can't do what they were able to when they were younger.

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