Have humans always suffered from back pain?

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Have humans always suffered from back pain?

Back pain is as common as any health condition you can come across. Even
when undiagnosed, many of us put up with it for years, not knowing how to deal with it. Of course, there are incredibly advanced spine surgery procedures that can help us out, but not everyone considers their mild-to-discomforting daily, on-going pain as a cause for surgery (although what many don’t realise is how impressively non-invasive spine surgery can be nowadays).

Contemporary causes of back pain

An intellectual economy – the digitalisation of the labour market – has really
changed our behaviours and bodies on a mass scale. Sitting down all day, every day, is not good for us. Where it was once only high paying professional jobs that were in a nice, warm office working 9 to 5, now even the low paying ones are.

There are so many of us sitting down and working on computers that ergonomic design can barely keep up with the issues that this causes.

Even switching to manual work is not suitable for our bodies. Lifting heavy things and bending down for unnaturally long periods of the day is perhaps an even worse strain on the lower back. Muscle and ligament strain can grow more serious over time. It can be very difficult to get the right balance between physical activity and sedentary activity.

Many of us put our back issues down to lifestyle. However, is it lifestyle alone? Can we yoga stretch our way out of these problems?

Is our evolution to blame?

The World Health Organisation still considers the source of lower back pain to be obscure, as it’s difficult to pinpoint its onset. Researchers are now suggesting that our evolution may be to blame.

Our human ancestors walked on all fours, which aided them in climbing and moving around in diverse habitats. It was only around 4 million years ago that we became partially bipedal, and 1.9 million years ago that we became fully bipedal. The very rapid evolution led to a curved spine that isn’t quite fit for holding us constantly upright and lifting heavy objects. It’s well researched that our cousin apes that walk on all-fours have less lower back pain, due to less stress on the lower back.

It’s the spines of animals similar to chimps that tend to have a small lesion that can form between the vertebrae in a disc, which causes back issues.

Overcoming our natural disadvantages

Back pain can be hereditary, it can from an accident, arthritis, and a variety of other circumstances. These are difficult to prevent, but in many cases, lower back pain can be overcome, despite it being increasingly seen as an evolutionary flaw.

Maintaining a good posture is crucial. You can get advice on correct posture from an appropriate therapist, or even find help online. On top of this, we should diversify our behaviour. We shouldn’t stand or sit for too long, but alternating between the two is good. If we work sitting down, we should stretch and talk a short walk every hour or so. This leads to huge improvements for many people.

It’s always preferable to avoid spine surgery where less aggressive solutions are possible, but when those solutions are not successful, surgery can be life changing for many people.

By | 2020-01-08T12:33:54+00:00 January 8th, 2020|History|1 Comment

About the Author:

‘Dean Swift’ is a pen name: the author has been a soldier; he has worked in sales, TV, the making of films, as a teacher of English and history and a journalist. He is married with three grown-up children. They live in Spain.

One Comment

  1. Sea February 26, 2020 at 4:19 am - Reply

    I have the back pain too. My doctor recommend me to spine surgery. But I scared so much. I afraid I can lie all day, not to stand again. What should I do

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