All you need to know about low back pain

The Japet team met with Dr. Zairi, a spine surgeon, to learn more about low back pain.

Fahed Zairi lombalgie

Back pain, also known as the ” disease of the century ” affects or will affect 80% of the population.

To act, we must first of all understand and be informed: Dr. Zaïri, a spine sugeon specializing in back pain, explains what the specific causes of low back pain are, how our work affects the health of our back and how to act to fight, prevent or relieve back pain.

What’s the difference between back pain and low back pain?

colonne vertebrale

It is important to not confuse back pain and low back pain.

Back pain affects any part of the spine: the cervical vertebrae, the dorsal spine and the lumbar vertebrae.

Low back pain, on the other hand, is a form of pain located only in the last segment, which is the lumbar region. It is the most frequent pain in the population since it concerns 3 out of 4 people.

There are also different types of low back pain that can be classified according to :

Intensity: mild, moderate or very intense;
Characteristics: some are more painful at night, we then speak of inflammatory low back pain, there is also mechanical low back pain which is related to the movements and stress on the spine;
Duration: less than 6 weeks, we speak of acute low back pain; between 6 weeks and 3 months, we speak of subacute low back pain, beyond 3 months it is a so-called chronic low back pain.

It is also possible to differentiate low back pain by the presence or not of radiated pain in the leg (so-called pure or exclusive low back pain) or associated with sciatica or cruralgia (pain of a nerve at the passage of the vertebrae).

Are there any aggravating factors for low back pain?

Several factors are involved in the aggravation of low back pain.

There are family predisposing factors, we cannot really speak of heredity because there is no clearly identified gene.

There are factors related to morphotypes, such as obesity, which will exaggerate the mechanical stress on the spine; as well as smoking, which will induce a lack of proper oxygenation of tissues and small arteries.

A sedentary lifestyle will also create a lack of musculation to support the spine during mechanical stress or certain sports that over-stress the spine.

Today, certain professional activities are also recognized as a source of illness. These are mainly the professions subject to handling with unsuitable load bearing and postures.

These are professions that wear out the lumbar segments extremely quickly, whereas if we recognize these constraints, take them into account and prevent bad posture we can avoid this type of situation.

 

What are the consequences of carrying loads on the spine?

Carrying weight implies an increase in the force that is exerted on the lumbar spine, known as the axial force. Since this area is located at the base, it is the area that bears the most weight. And the more stress is exerted, the more the moving segment (the discs and joints between each vertebra) will be subjected to strain and thus increase the risk of acute injury or chronic wearing.

segment lombaire

Mobile segment

Finally, it is a problem of adequacy between the exaggerated mechanical constraints and the support capacities of the spine, which will be linked to age, but also to muscular capacities, which is why the back muscles are so important. The differential will be absorbed by the mobile segment, which will then wear out faster.

When mechanical stress increases, pressure is a cause or aggravating factor in the chronicization of low back pain. Therefore, lowering this pressure will reduce or even eliminate the pain.

In the workplace, in a targeted high-risk occupation where heavy lifting is known to be important and repeated, and will cause back pain, reducing pressure will neutralize the effect of heavy lifting on the spine.

It is from this observation and thanks to its ambulatory traction system that the Japet.W exoskeleton can reduce the pressure on the spine by 40%. It therefore limits exaggerated mechanical stresses when handling loads, protecting users from acute injuries or chronic abrasion.

 

Are some postures more constraining than others?

We are aware that simple, physiological postures that we do every day will induce mechanical compression and stress on the intervertebral discs, which are not good for the back.

Diagramme Nachemson

Nachemson diagram

There is no absolute rule, but a forward leaning posture, with the center of gravity projected too far in front of the lumbar spine, will induce a lever arm that increases mechanical stress. The same is true for torsional movements, which are weakening for the spine. If we combine these two movements, it becomes extremely penalizing and dangerous for the disc.

If these postures and load-bearing movements are performed repeatedly, logically, the stresses are more regular, thus increasing the risk of acute injuries or chronic wearing. The human body is not made to do repetitive movements, even if we are often forced to do so. This is nowadays clearly recognized in occupational medicine and we must pay attention to it.

By maintaining the back in comfort zones, the Japet.W device limits the use of risky postures. It limits dangerous movements and refocuses on a physiological position, thus limiting exaggerated mechanical constraints and thus improving comfort.

We often talk about maintaining physical activity, how does this impact our spine?

We can never repeat it often enough, the right treatment is movement: maintaining mobility is essential to fight against low back pain.

Indeed, when we remain immobile, there is a risk of muscular atrophy or musculo-tendinous retraction which will limit the capacities of movement and end up making each movement painful. Also, the less muscular we have, the less we have the capacity to support the spine, and at that moment, the slightest mechanical overload exerted on the spine will no longer be absorbed by the musculature but will be absorbed by the mobile segment.

As you will have understood, the mobile segment will therefore wear out, the pain will increase and the risk of the pathology becoming more acute, affecting daily activities and quality of life.

The motorized Japet exoskeleton follows and adapts in real time to the user’s movements. It thus preserves the muscular activity of the lumbar zone and thus prevents the muscular melting of this zone. This helps to regain confidence in performing movements.

What can be done to prevent and relieve low back pain?

It is necessary to identify the risk factors and avoid them! I.e. not to smoke, to have a regular sporting activity, to avoid overweight… By avoiding these risks, we are talking about maintaining a good lumbar hygiene.

In addition, whether in your personal or professional life, you must avoid deleterious postures that are traumatic for the spine and especially their repetitions.

When it is already too late, it is possible to hide the pain by calming the inflammation with medication, analgesics, anti-inflammatory drugs or by infiltrating or manipulating the spine.

To alleviate the cause of low back pain and relieve exaggerated mechanical stress, it is necessary to improve the muscular capacities of the spine. In more rare cases, surgery is also a solution.

 

You have understood it, take care of your back!

 

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