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Gone are the days when back pain affected a person only in their old age. Nowadays, almost every second person suffers from some kind of a backache. From sedentary lifestyle to certain diseases and ailments, the back pain can result from the amalgamation of various factors, making the condition painful (mild to chronic) and uncomfortable to the hilt. In this article, we will mainly stress upon the factors responsible for a back pain.
Underlying factors that often triggers a back pain
More than often, prolonged and chronic back pain interferes with the daily activities of a person, thereby jeopardizing their lives. For a proper treatment and management, one should first identify the factors responsible for the back pain. Some of the common and critical triggers include
- Sciatica: Sciatica is a neurological disorder whereby an inflammation or injury of the sciatic nerve (considered the largest nerve in the body) triggers numbness and a shooting pain that moves downwards, often from the lower back (the lumbar region) through the buttocks and hips into the back of one leg. Sometimes, a person may experience a pain down both the legs.
- Osteoarthritis of the spine: This is a painful degenerative disorder of the spine that mainly affects the neck and the lower back. Here, the cartilage of the discs and joints (lower back and neck) are damaged causing pain and weakness. In some people, the pain is so severe that it limits their motion to a great extent.
- Lumbar spinal stenosis: Stenosis of the lumbar spine results in severe back pain, especially in the lower half (lumbar area), triggered by narrowing down of the spinal canal.
- Osteoporosis of the spine: This is a bone disorder where the bones become so porous, thin and weak that they start to crack and break (including those of the spine), a condition known as vertebral compression fractures. These fractures are a common cause of weakness and back pain.
- Shingles: This is a viral infection (varicella-zoster virus) characterized by the appearance of a rash which is often painful. Shingles can occur in any part of the body including the spine. The viral infection in the spine is what triggers the back pain.
- Spinal Cancer, muscle spasm or ligament tear and strain on the back can give rise to back pain.
- Back pain can also be an outcome of rupture or disorder of the discs that act as a defensive shield between the spinal vertebrae.
- Leading a sedentary life can be dangerous, often causing back pain.
- People who are overweight or obese (especially the lower half) are known to suffer from a back pain.
- In many people, rigorous exercise and physical activities can be a major contributing factor, triggering a back pain.
- Women who wear high heels are more susceptible to developing a back pain.
- In addition to these, bad posture, stress, a poor quality mattress can equally contribute to back pain.
- Do not neglect the condition if the pain persists for more than a week. Get medical assistance to avoid further deterioration and complication.
Stress has become an integral and inevitable part of life. From personal life to professional commitments, the trigger can be anything. While there can be many common and harmful effects of stress, one that deserves a special mention is a headache. Almost 90% of the people worldwide get a Tension Headache (a term often used for a headache associated with stress).
In case, when headache is due to tension, the head feels tight and heavy. Further, a person may experience pressure mainly around the forehand and also at the back side of the head, moving down to the neck. However, it is important that one does not confuse a tension headache with a migraine. The two are as different as chalk and cheese. A tension headache can be chronic or episodic. A person with a chronic tension headache may suffer from the condition frequently. On the other hand, if a person gets a tension headache for less than 15 days a month, the headache is said to be episodic. The condition is more severe and painful in a chronic tension headache.
What causes a tension headache?
While stress (physical, mental and emotional) is the major contributing factor, the following triggers may also play a pivotal role in a tension headache.
- Severe anxiety and depression.
- Lack of a proper rest and sound sleep.
- Extreme fatigue (physical or mental) or hunger can also result in a tension headache.
- A person with iron deficiency may also suffer from a tension headache.
Managing a stress related headache
Managing and eliminating stress can go a long way to prevent a tension headache. The following activities are sure to make the situation better
- Sleep well to keep stress at bay: Sleep can work wonders to reduce stress and the associated headache. Maintain a healthy sleep cycle. Work is important, but compromising on your sleep is foolish. It is important that you sleep for not less than 6-8 hours daily.
- A healthy diet for a stress-free life: A healthy diet can play a significant role to reduce stress, thereby enhancing your moods. Enrich your diet with dark green leafy vegetables, dark chocolates, nuts, probiotics, berries (especially blueberries), seeds (sesame, pumpkin, and sunflower), foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Foods rich in vitamins, magnesium, and potassium are known to be great mood enhancers. Try and avoid processed foods as well as foods rich in fats and complex carbohydrates as much as you can.
- Meditation can help: People under stress can benefit immensely from meditations, exercise, and physical activities. Exercise is known to trigger the release of endorphins or feel good hormones. Endorphins can lift up your mood and spirits to a great extent.
- Family time: Spending time with your family and loved ones can also help to reduce stress.
Stress and headache can both be managed and taken care of if you follow a healthy lifestyle.
Brain mapping is a technique where the biological quantities of a human brain are represented as spatial quantities resulting in maps. As with many other medical technologies, brain mapping is fast-evolving as well. Among several uses, brain mapping is chiefly used while performing surgery on the brain.
When surgery is to be performed on the brain such as surgery for epilepsy, the surgeon would want to comprehend how the brain areas are affected by seizures. The surgical intervention is meant for removing as much as seizure focus as possible while preserving crucial functions like understanding, speech, vision, movement, and sensation.
Why is brain mapping performed?
Brain mapping is a process which helps in identification of functions of various parts of the brain. Mapping the brain by stimulating different areas of the brain areas can aid in creating a map for a particular person. The map allows the doctor in understanding what parts of the brain are responsible for performing critical functions including sensation, movement, speech and other functions.
Which functions of the brain can be mapped electrically?
Typical areas of the brain which have motor, language, visual and sensory functions are needed to be mapped. When current is applied to a single area at a time, the doctor understands which part of the brain is responsible for which function.
When the patient is not able to speak due to the current, then the area is likely to be crucial for language function. If the limbs, face or trunk of the patient stop moving as the current passes, the area that is tested is responsible for movement. On the other hand, if the individual experiences tingling, numbing, and other sensations when the current is applied, it means that a sensory region is discovered.
How is electrical brain mapping performed?
Electrical brain mapping for guiding brain surgery for epilepsy can be performed in two distinct processes: directly during the surgery or in a two-stage procedure.
In the first stage of the process, the surgeon creates an opening in the skull which helps in exposing the surface of the brain. Small electrical contacts or electrodes are placed on the brain surface even though no brain tissue is removed. As soon as the electrodes are in the right position, the scalp is closed. The electrodes not only record the seizure of the patient electrically but also allow mapping of various areas of the brain. The last stage is surgery where abnormal brain tissues are removed.
Brain mapping process during surgery:
Electrical brain mapping may also be performed during the surgery which exposes part of the brain. This is termed as intraoperative brain mapping since it occurs while performing the main operation. The process of mapping may last for an hour to several hours at a stretch.
Brain mapping is also used to diagnose neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. In these cases, the brain map shows extreme shrinkage of the brain due to tissue loss. In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!
Microdiscectomy for symptomatic lumbar disc in young patients who have failed nonoperative treatment has a high success rate based on outcome measures, patient satisfaction, and return to active duty. Patients with sequestered or extruded lumbar disc herniations had significantly better outcomes than did those contained herniations. Patients with contained disc herniations and smoking have less satisfaction rates.
Cervical pillows assist in alleviation of neck pain by providing a better sleeping position. They provide relaxation as well as maintaining a natural, healthy cervical posture. Cervical pillows benefit those with neck muscle strain and also used for prevention of neck pain. In clinical testings, there have been positive results on neck pain, headaches as well as sleeping quality with the use of cervical pillows.
Are you experiencing excruciating headache? you probably didn't know but you could be suffering from brain aneurysms. It is described as bulge formation in the blood vessel in the brain. It is a totally asymptomatic condition as one does not display any symptoms until the bulge vessel ruptures which may result in blood releasing in the skull which may further lead to a stroke. The bulge is often formed in the gaps between the tissues covering the brain and brain itself.
Most common treatment options for ruptured aneurysm
There are two common treatment options for a ruptured brain aneurysm endovascular coiling and surgical clipping. Both these procedures have certain risk factors, therefore it is best to discuss the details with a neurologist. The endovascular coiling is a less invasive process where the surgeon inserts a hollow tube or catheter into an artery and threads it through the body to reach an aneurysm. Then a guide wire is sent to push a soft platinum wire through the catheter. This coils up and disrupts the flow of blood into the aneurysm and leads to blood clotting. The clotting is essential in sealing off the aneurysm from the artery.
The surgical clipping is a process used for closing off the aneurysm, and a section of the skull is required to be removed for assessing the affected part. It also helps in locating the blood vessel that is responsible for the problem. Finally, a metal clip is placed on the neck of the aneurysm to stop the flow of blood. Though endovascular coiling is less invasive and said to be safer, adequate post-treatment care is necessary to minimize risks.
To treat larger aneurysms, a treatment called flow diverters may be useful. Since, the treatment is decided based on the size, location, apperance and your health condition, your doctor will be the best person to take the final call.
Other procedures to treat symptoms
Other than the surgical procedures several treatments might be prescribed to treat the symptoms and to manage complications. A few commonly advised treatments are:
- Pain relievers: To manage headaches
- Calcium channel blockers: One of the most common complications that may arise with an aneurysm is calcium entering the walls of blood vessels which may result in narrowing of walls. Calcium channel blockers are medications may be prescribed by the doctors to deal with the complication
- Anti seizure medications: Medications such as levetiracetam, phenytoin, valproic acid, and others are prescribed to treat seizures associated with aneurysms
- Procedures to prevent stroke: An insufficient blood flow may result in a stroke and to prevent it, the drug vasopressor is injected intravenously, or angioplasty is performed.
- Rehabilitative therapy: Damage to the brain may require the patient to undergo several physical and occupational therapy.
If you suffer from the condition, it is advised to keep a check on the blood pressure and quit smoking as they can help in reducing the risks associated with aneurysms. In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!
Low back pain as a result of muscle spasm responds well to exercise. But if the pain is due to a problem in the spine, exercise needs to be done more cautiously. One common warning sign of nerve compression is sciatica, or pain that radiates from the back down into the leg. The pain may be accompanied by a tingling "pins and needles" sensation. If you have sciatica, don't begin a new exercise program without speaking to a doctor.
Patients who continue with the recommended exercises had significantly lower disability scores than those who did not continue with the exercises and were put on traction. Pain and global improvement were also better in the exercise group. In conclusion, no specific effect of traction on standard physical therapy was observed in most of study groups. We suggest focusing on back education and exercise therapy in the management of patients suffering from this chronic condition.
Studies investigating walking as an intervention in Backache report a reduction in pain either measured immediately post-treadmill vertical walking or after a 3-week period of PBWS(partial body weight suspension) walking. Other studies that investigated the effects of physiotherapy in a chronic Backache population compared to exercise and walking treatment reported a significant difference in pain reduction in favour of the two interventions when compared to physiotherapy alone.
Walking is a fundamental human activity, that is easy to perform, has a low risk of injury and is associated with many health benefits. While much research has investigated exercise and advice to remain active as management strategies for low back pain, few studies specifically target walking as the primary intervention. The american college of sports medicine (acsm)  recommend 30 min of low intensity aerobic activity 3â5 times a week to maintain a healthy lifestyle. The positive role for increasing moderate physical activity in the management and prevention of many chronic health conditions is now well established.