The spine provides stability, smooth movement, and protects the spinal cord. It consists of bony segments called vertebrae and fibrous tissue called intervertebral discs. The vertebrae and discs form a column from the head to the pelvis providing symmetry to the body. The spine is divided into 3 major parts, the cervical (neck), thoracic (mid back), and the lumbar (low back).
Back pain is very common, and the majority of Australians will have occasional episodes. These episodes can be acute and severe, or some people will experience more persistent symptoms.
Some of the causes of sudden onset back pain include injuries to the ligaments and soft tissue structures around the spine, including the joints and discs. The pain may be severe, but symptoms will generally settle over a few weeks. Regular movement is encouraged to hasten recovery, and you may require medications to lessen your pain in the first few days.
Some sports may lead to overuse injuries of the spine such as stress fractures. These injuries often require assessment with special investigations such as MRI scans, and may necessitate a few months of rest from the aggravating activity.
Most back injuries will respond to exercise programs and your Sports Physician may recommend treatment with a physiotherapist or exercise physiologist. Sometimes further tests may be required to help determine optimal treatment.