Most people experience back pain
at some time in their lives, but in
most cases it is not serious and
the problem corrects itself before
investigation takes place. However,
some kinds of back pain can be
related to a specific disorder.
The most common sites affected
by back pain are shown in
Pain and stiffness in the
back due to degeneration of
the joints between the
vertebrae in one (or more)
of the cervical, thoracic, or
Pain and tenderness
in the largerback
Pain in the loin due to
infection of the kidney.
Pain in the buttock and
down the back of the
leg into the footdue to
pressure on a nerve.
Pain that commonly
affects the lower back
but mayoccur in other
parts due to ligament,
muscle, joint, or disc
Pain and tenderness
at the base of the
after a fall.
spondylitis; compression fracture; stress
(displacement of vertebrae). X-rays will
not reveal ligament, muscle, facet joint,
or disc damage. To detect pressure on a
nerve root (due to disc prolapse, for
myelography, CT scanning,
If a specific cause is found for the back
pain, treatment will be for that cause.
Research has shown that acute nonspe-
cific back pain is best treated by early
return to normal activity, helped by
analgesic drugs. Bed rest should not be
continued for more than two days.
Chronic nonspecific back pain is often
more difficult to treat. Treatment may
include use of
and related drugs,
nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
cle-relaxant drugs, acupuncture,
injection. Exercise, spinal
or wearing a surgical
may also be
helpful; and spinal surgery may some-
times be necessary.
that blocks nerve
activity in the spinal cord. Baclofen is
used to relieve muscle
ness caused by injury to either the brain
or spinal cord, by neurological disorders
or by a
The drug does not cure the underlying
disorder but helps to facilitate move-
ment and allows
more effective. The drug is taken in
either tablet or liquid form.
Side effects of baclofen may include
drowsiness and muscle weakness. These
effects can be reduced if the dose of the
drug is increased gradually under med-
ical supervision until the desired degree
of relaxation is achieved.
The presence of
in the blood-
stream. Bacteraemia commonly occurs
for a few hours after minor surgical
operations and dental treatment and
may also occur in infections such as
prevents the bacteria from multiplying
and causing damage. However, in peo-
ple with abnormal heart valves (due to
conditions such as a congenital defect
or scarring from rheumatic fever), the
bacteria may cause
mation of the heart lining and valves).
If bacteraemia affects a person whose
immune system is weakened by illness
or major surgery,
tion of the blood) may develop.
invisible to the naked eye. The singular
form of the term is bacterium. Abun-
dant in the air, soil, and water, most
bacteria are harmless to humans. Some,
such as those that live in the intestine,
are beneficial and help to break down
food for digestion.
A typical bacterial cell enlarged to approximately
20,000 times its normal size.
Disease-causing bacteria are known as
pathogens and are classified, according
to shape, into three main groups:
or spirilla (spiral-shaped).
Among the wide range of diseases
caused by cocci are pneumonia, tonsilli-
tis, bacterial endocarditis (inflammation
of the lining inside the heart), menin-
gitis (inflammation of the membranes
surrounding the brain and spinal cord),
toxic shock syndrome, and various dis-
orders of the skin.
Diseases that are caused by bacilli
include tuberculosis, pertussis (whoop-
ing cough), typhoid fever, diphtheria,
tetanus, salmonellosis, shigellosis (bacil-
lary dysentery), legionnaires’ disease,
Bacteria from the third, and smallest,
group, the spirochaetes, are responsible
for causing syphilis, yaws, leptospirosis,
and Lyme disease.
GROWTH AND MOVEMENT
The bacteria that colonize the human
body thrive in warm, moist conditions.
Common types of bacteria
(causes typhoid fever)
(causes sore throat)