​Think back pain only happens to the elderly? Think again. Lower back pain affects up to 80% of the population, at some point in their lives. Of these 80%, 10% will go on to develop chronic symptoms.

The lumbar spine refers to the lower back, which consists of the spinal cord, as well as soft tissues such as muscles and ligaments. The main function of the lumbar spine and surrounding muscles is to provide support, as well as to transmit loads from the upper body. Hence it is important for the lumbar spine to remain stable against the compressive and shearing forces against everyday life.

There are five vertebrae in the lumbar spine that house and protect the spinal cord. A disc - made of fibrous material - in between each vertebrae serve like shock absorbers to distribute the load of the body evenly. Muscles in the back work in synergy so that movements of the body can be carried out readily and efficiently.

Common causes of low back pain include degenerative changes to the spine, traumatic injuries, and even poor posture when sitting, standing or walking such as with rounded shoulders, a slumped upper back or slouched lower back.

Hence it is important to maintain good posture at all times and exercise regularly (such as walking or swimming) at least 3 to 5 times a week to keep your back healthy. Other tips include:

  • Sit with your back supported to ensure good alignment of your spine
  • Avoid working in a slouched or slumped position
  • Take regular short breaks to avoid build up of tension and stress due to long periods of continuous sitting or standing
  • Ensure good posture when lifting objects

However, if you are suffering from back pain, please consult your nearest GP.