Why Do Astronauts Have Back Pain After Months In Space?

Posted: Oct 26 2016, 7:24am CDT | by , Updated: Oct 26 2016, 8:58pm CDT , in Latest Science News


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Why Astronauts Have Back Pain After Months in Space?
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  • Astronauts Experience Shrinking and Weakening of Spinal Muscles in Space
  • Astronauts Grow Taller After Months in Space But with Back Pain

Back pain is common during prolonged missions. It has been found that trips in space cause the muscles of the spine to slacken thereby affecting the health of astronauts. They often suffer from lumbago and other injuries as a result.

NASA as well as private space agencies such as SpaceX and Boeing want to land people on Mars as a part of their future plans.

Yet there are problems that stand in the way and the health issues due to space travel are the very first obstacles that have cropped up. Astronauts aboard spacecraft that travel to Mars could face adverse health conditions which will most probably make the trip a pain in the neck.

A novel study, conducted by the researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine, published on October 25 in the research journal Spine, shows that astronauts reach a greater height throughout lengthy space flights.

However, they also lose precious muscles in the process. Thus although gaining a few inches in height is a source of pride, the transformations in the muscles of the spine may not be all that healthy for human beings.

The common result of space travel for lengthy distances is back pain and a series of injuries. The muscles that bolster the spinal column undergo weakness and a slackening. This is not a good sign.

The shrinkage in spinal muscles does not return back to normal functioning when the astronauts return to earth. Such is the tragedy of this thing called space travel.

A half a dozen astronauts who had stayed aboard the ISS for four or seven months were studied. The range of muscles that cover the spine and cause its alignment shrunk by a whopping 19%.

This was after they had stayed for lengthy times on the ISS. The recovery after their return to earth was merely by two-thirds within a month or two.

Before the mission, the paraspinal lean muscle mass was 86% of the total muscle mass in the astronauts. Afterwards it remained merely 72% which is a significant decrease.

A recovery of 68% of the muscle mass occurred after returning to earth. Yet the loss was still there and could not be made up for later on. In conditions of weightlessness, the muscles of astronauts tend to atrophy.

Also their bones become rigid and immovable as a result. This is the reason why many astronauts experience back pain after returning from long durations in space.

Although most astronauts are in peak form as far as physical fitness is concerned, these side effects of outer space travel are something they have to put up with.

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