Back Facts from BOOST PHYSIO NW4 and N2
About 80% of the population will experience significant low back pain
- There are 5 vertebrae in your lower back (lumbar spine), 12 verterbrae in your mid-back (thoracic spine) and 7 vertebrae in your neck (cervical spine)
- Each verterbra in the spine is separated by an intervertebral disc
- Discs are cartilagenous with a jelly-like nucleus pulposus in the centre
- Discs have a high water content- during the day the water gets squeezed out of the discs from the pressure of being upright- that is why you are shorter in height at the end of the day compared to when waking up!
- Discs don’t slip- they do often bulge and tear though
- About 30% of healthy pain free people are shown to have bulging discs on MRI scan!
- Lumbar discs are the thickest discs in the spine because they carry much more load from the spine
- X-rays for back pain are not very informative- MRI scans are much more detailed showing up discs, nerves and muscles
- But even an MRI scan cannot detect if back pain is coming from muscles and ligaments
- The centre of gravity of the human body is at the L4-L5 area of the spine (ie between Lumbar verterbrae 4 and 5)
- The most common discs to be injured are the L4/L5 and the L5/S1 discs
- The sciatic nerve is the thickness of your little finger!
- When irritated, the sciatic nerve causes pain radiating down the leg- called sciatica