The back (spine) is made up of bones that are stacked like blocks (called vertebrae). The spinal cord runs down the middle with nerves extending from the spinal cord between the vertebrae to the left and right. Disks that sit between the vertebrae act as spongy shock absorbers. Support in movement is given to the spine by several layers of muscles as well as joint capsules, ligaments and tendons. Damage to any one of these structures can cause back pain.
Back pain can manifest itself with different types of pain including sharp, shooting pains, burning, throbbing, stabbing or even a dull or bruised ache. These pains can be constant or come and go. Some people may also be getting pins and needles, tingling, weakness, numbness, other strange sensations or pain in one or both of the legs, feet, arms or hands.
Although back pain is a very common problem, with reports suggesting as many as eight out of ten of us will suffer from it at some point during our lives. Suffering from back pain can have a big impact on our everyday routine, making you feel as though you are unable to carry out normal activities and may even be affecting your sleep. Many people seek osteopathic treatment to address back pain quickly as osteopaths are skilled at helping prevent back pain from becoming a chronic, long-term condition.
Whilst most back pain is not serious, if you find that you are suffering from numbness in the saddle area, putting it simply, if you cannot feel toilet paper when you wipe yourself, you must seek immediate medical attention. This is not intended to scare you, but it is important that if you have these symptoms urgent action is needed to prevent other long term problems.