Backache Usually Due To Muscle, Tendon Pain

One of the pleasures of childhood was to study a folding anatomical mannikin, with superimposed plates. You lifted up the fold which pictured the skin and there underneath were the muscles. You lifted up the picture of the muscles and there were the ribs and peritoneum. You lifted them up and there were the lungs and heart and intestines and stomach and liver. You lifted them up and there were the back-bone, the aorta and the kidneys.

It was like the old preacher’s sermon on the prodigal son. He chose as his text, “When he came to himself.” The preacher described the prodigal son in the far land pawning first his overcoat and then his coat, then his vest, then his shirt and then his undershirt. “And then,” concluded the preacher, “he came to himself.”

The greatest interest of the anatomical mannikins with the super-imposed plates was that when you got inside you felt that you had come to yourself. If you had a pain you could find out what was underneath the pain and you knew it was your liver or your spleen or your appendix that was diseased.

Of course, you always think of the worst under these circumstances. It is always the most vital organs that you select. It is never the humble muscles or just the tendons or fascia. It has to be the gall-bladder or pancreas.

This is especially true of backache. The first thought of the person who has backache is that it is due to the kidneys. And that means Bright’s disease. And that means early dissolution.

The fact is that backache is very seldom—hardly ever—due to kidney disease. It is usually no more than a muscle and tendon pain in the great round masses of intertwining back muscles.

Backache is almost as common as headache. In women it is possibly commoner. Some cynical physician defined “woman” as “a two legged animal with a backache.” I resent that, but it points a moral.

There are so many varieties of backache that we will devote several articles to the discussion