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Did You Know ?>> Back quiz >> Answer
Back quiz




1) How many vertebrae does a human back have?

1. 11
2. 26
3. 31
4. 44



The right answer is B.

The adult spine is called the vertebral column and is made up of 26 bones; five in the neck (cervical) region, 12 in the chest (thoracic) region and five in the lower (lumbar) region. The end part called the sacrum is fused into one bone and the coccyx is one bone, sometimes called the tailbone.



2) What is the most common cause of back pain?

1. a slipped disc
2. a trapped nerve
3. an injury to a muscle
4. usually there is no obvious physical cause



The right answer is D.

In most cases, there is no clear cause for a bout of simple back pain. Back pain is most commonly 'self-limiting' which means that there is no underlying physical damage being done - the problem is the short-term pain.



3) What percentage of people in the UK suffer from at least one day of low back pain during the course of a year?

1. 5 per cent
2. 10 per cent
3. 36 per cent
4. 49 per cent


The right answer is D.

Surveys show that during the course of a year, nearly half of us have low back pain for at least 24 hours.



4) If you suffer from prolonged back pain, which of the following is most likely to be the most 'back-friendly' mattress for you?

1. a second hand mattress
2. a new, very hard mattress
3. a new, firm mattress
4. a new, medium firm mattress



The right answer seems to be D.

There is little published research in this area, but a European study involving more than 300 people with prolonged back pain showed that people who used a medium firm mattress recovered better than people who used a firm mattress.



5) Which of these tips is not a good way of preventing back pain when lifting?

1. avoid lifting heavy loads whenever possible
2. don't twist your back when you lift
3. don't lift in cramped, awkward conditions
4. keep your knees straight and bend from the waist to pick objects up


The right (or wrong!) answer is D.

It is better to bend slightly at the knees, hips and back when lifting objects from the ground.



6) Which of these groups of workers experience the most back pain?

1. office workers
2. manual workers
3. people who work from home
4. it doesn't make any difference



The right answer is B.

People in skilled manual, partly skilled and unskilled jobs report more back pain than people in other areas of work. Other elements of work that cause a lot of back pain include driving a motor vehicle for long periods of time, and intensive use of the telephone without headsets.



7) What is most sensible advice for recovering from short-term back ache (with no other symptoms)?

1. stay in bed until the pain has gone
2. stay in bed for two or three days
3. get up, but do no activity until the pain has gone
4. get up and try to return to normal activities



The right answer is D.

Studies show that in most cases of simple back pain, bed rest just makes things worse, so it is better to keep active and get on with everyday activities (even if you have to modify some of the things that you do).




8) When is it important to seek medical advice for back pain?

1. when the pain lasts more than a few days or is associated with other symptoms, such as loss of bladder control
2. when the pain is in the neck or shoulders
3. when it feels as though you have pulled a muscle
4. you should always seek medical advice for back pain



The right answer is A.

You should seek urgent medical advice if your back pain is prolonged or associated with other symptoms like loss of bladder control, numbness in one or both legs, or a fever. Your doctor will diagnose the cause of the pain and recommend the best course of treatment for you.



9) If you are prone to bouts of back pain, which of the following forms of exercise may not help you look after your back?

1. swimming
2. golf
3. alexander technique
4. tai chi


The most likely answer is B.

All the other activities can help to strength the muscles that support the back, but your golf swing could strain the back, which may result in injury.




10) Doctors sometimes talk about 'yellow flags' for back pain. But what is a 'yellow flag'?

1. a sign that your back pain is not serious and will go away in a few days
2. a sign that your back pain is likely to be chronic
3. a sign that your back pain is related to social and psychological factors
4. a sign that your back pain has a serious underlying cause, which needs to be treated immediately




The right answer is C.

In quite a lot of cases, back pain is linked to your life circumstances or psychological factors, such as stress, anxiety or depression. Sometimes treating the psychological issues or changing your circumstances can also help with the pain. NB: Signs that your back pain has a serious underlying cause, which needs immediate treatment are known as 'red flags'.
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