Back Pain

What Back Pain is All About?

While there are types of back pain which are relatively manageable through a couple of stretches, some conditions will need to be fully looked into by specialists. If you’re currently experiencing any form of back pain, it’s just worthwhile to consider the reality of it and find out how it must be treated. It would also help for you to have the services of a Musculoskeletal expert on standby. This way, you may immediately get treated and prevent the worsening of the pain you’re experiencing.

pain-management (2)A look through the types of back pain will be beneficial for you, since you will already know the related habits which you must alter to prevent the debilitating condition. As adults, we may no longer be as robust in comparison to our younger selves. This is why some life alterations need to be made to prevent any worse related conditions of back pain from happening.

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Back pain is one of the most common reasons people self-treat and seek medical care. It will affect approximately three in four adults during their lifetime. When we speak about “back pain” we mean pain that originates in the spine anywhere between the upper and lower back.

Besides back pain, other symptoms may present.
There are many different types of pain. Acute back pain is defined as severe but lasting a short period of time. Chronic back painusually occurs every day. It can be severe, but may be characterized as mild, deep, achy, burning, or electric-like. Back pain that travels into another part of the body, such as the leg may be consider radicular pain, particularly when it radiates below the knee. This scenario is commonly called a lumbar radiculopathy. Fortunately, not all occurrences of back pain include leg pain!

Back pain Doctor-speak
If you see a doctor for back pain, he (or she) may use terms such as thoracic, lumbar, lumbosacral, or sacrum. The point is, back pain is a large topic covering many different regions (or levels) of the spine.

  • Thoracic spine is the upper and mid back areas, and where your ribs attach to the spinal column.
  • Lumbar refers to your low back.
  • Lumbosacral is the low back, sacrum, and possibly the tailbone (called the coccyx).
  • Sacrum is the part of the spine that is at the back of your pelvis.

Back pain is a big topic because between the upper back and tailbone, there are 17 vertebral bodies, many joints, the sacrum and tailbone. Plus fibrous and muscular supporting structures, intervertebral discs, spinal cord and nerve roots, and blood vessels. A simple injury, such as a back sprain/strain from lifting and twisting simultaneously, can cause immediate and severe pain that is typically self-limiting.

Of course, not all incidences of back pain are injury or trauma-related. Many back problems are congenital (found at birth), degenerative, age-related, disease-related, and may be linked to poor posture, obesity or an unhealthy lifestyle such as smoking. Sometimes the back pain is worse than the severity of the injury or disorder. That statement raises the question, “When should I seek medical attention for back pain?

  • You cannot stand upright.
  • Fever accompanies pain.
  • Loss of bladder or bowel function or control
  • Leg pain and/or weakness progressively worsens.
  • Pain is relentless or worsens.

Many patients with back pain have reported feeling afraid and anxious, which is normal. Most people who experience upper, low or lower back pain—even down into one or both legs—intuitively know when it’s time to seek medical care.

What to expect from your doctor
Whether you back pain falls into the “seek urgent medical care” list above, or you are following your gut reaction that says, “Go see your doctor,” below is what you can expect.

  • A review of your medical history, including immediate family members who have back problems. Some back problems (eg, scoliosis, osteoporosis) have a genetic potential.
  • Discuss when back pain started, what you were doing when pain began, current pain severity and characteristics (eg, stabbing, burning), how pain may have changed since it began, and other questions. Your doctor wants to learn as much about your pain and symptoms before he examines you—while the exam may provoke pain, your doctor doesn’t want to make the process intolerable!
  • Physical examination evaluates your vital signs (eg, heart rate). It is not unusual for your blood pressure to be elevated as a result of pain. The doctor examines your spine, feeling for abnormalities and areas of tenderness.
  • Neurological examination involves assessing sensation and function. The doctor may employ the pin prick test to determine if feeling is the same on both sides of particular parts of the body (eg, legs). Function, flexibility and range of motion are assessed while you walk, bend forward and backward (if able to), and during other movements. The doctor tests your reflexes too.

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In older adults, low back pain tends to be related to ageing. Parts of their body will change due to ageing and some cases of back pain may be due to degeneration.

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elderlyladyshoulderpainWhile older adults can experience pain related to any of the conditions that also affect younger adults, individuals over age 60 are more likely to suffer from pain related to degeneration of the joints in the spine. Two of the most common causes of lower back pain in older adults include osteoarthritis and spinal stenosis.

Symptoms: Lower back pain and stiffness that is the most pronounced in the morning and in the evening

Includes any combination of the below symptoms:

  • Pain that interrupts sleep
  • Pain that is most pronounced first thing in the morning and again toward the end of the day
  • Localized tenderness when the affected area of the spine is pressed
  • Aching, steady or intermittent pain in the lower back that is aggravated by extended activity
  • Stiffness or loss of flexibility in the back (for example, unable to bend comfortably at the waist)

Possible cause: Facet joint osteoarthritis

 Facet joint osteoarthritis, also called degenerative arthritis or osteoarthritis of the spine, is a degenerative condition that develops gradually over time. The pain is caused by the breakdown of the cartilage between the facet joints in the spine. At first the symptoms may only be intermittent, but can later develop into steadier pain in the lower back, and may eventually cause sciatica in addition to lower back pain.

Symptom: Leg pain that occurs primarily when walking and standing upright

Includes any combination of the following:

  • Knee-Pain-treatmentUnable to walk far without developing leg pain
  • Lower back pain relief is achieved quickly after sitting down
  • Symptoms fluctuate between severe and mild/none
  • Symptoms develop gradually over time
  • Weakness, numbness, and tingling that radiates from the low back into the buttocks and legs (sciatica)

Symptoms: Sudden onset of back pain, limited flexibility, height loss

  • Includes any of the following:
    • Sudden onset of back pain
    • Standing or walking will usually make the pain worse
    • Lying on one’s back makes the pain less intense
    • Height loss
    • Limited spinal flexibility
    • Deformity and disability

    Possible cause: Spinal compression fracture

    As a general rule, the possibility of compression fracture should be considered after any sudden onset of back pain in adults over age 50, especially in post-menopausal women with osteoporosis and in men or women after long-term corticosteroid use. In a person with osteoporosis, even a small amount of force put on the spine, as from a sneeze, may cause a compression fracture.

  • Less Common Causes of Lower Back Pain

    While less common than the above listed conditions, a number of other conditions can cause low back pain as well, including but not limited to:

There are various complications related to back pain as a condition. Without proper diagnosis and treatment, a seemingly mild pain may be at risk of turning into a much worse sickness. If you are experiencing any form of back pain, it would be helpful to seek the services of a Musculoskeletal professional. Before its too late, be sure to consult a back pain specialist if you feel uncomfortable. They are specialized doctors that will help you on the efficient means and proper treatment for your back pain conditions. 



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