Back pain is a very common concern that affects most of us during our lives. Its intensity can range from dull, throbbing discomfort to sharp or shooting pain. Injury, poor posture or an underlying medical condition may cause pain along the back or spine.
The American Association of Neurological Surgeons notes that 75-85% of Americans experience some form of back pain in their lifetime. While the condition can be quite painful and debilitating, about 90% of cases are resolved without surgery.
As the name suggests, the primary symptom of back pain is physical discomfort on the spine or back. You might feel back pain as a muscle ache or sharp cramp. Less frequently, back pain may also be felt as a stabbing or burning sensation. The pain might worsen or radiate down your leg when standing, twisting, bending, or lifting.
Back pain can be broadly grouped into lower back pain, middle back pain, upper back pain, or low back pain with sciatica. Factors like older age, lack of exercise, excess body weight, improper lifting, and smoking put you at a greater risk of developing back pain.
The human back is a complex structure of bones, discs, tendons, ligaments, and muscles. Problems with any one of these can result in back pain. The most common causes of back pain include:
- lifting improperly or at an awkward angle
- sitting or standing for long periods
- hunching or straining the neck forward for extended periods (such as when using a computer or driving)
- muscle tension/strain from occupational activities
- sleeping on a poor mattress that doesn’t keep the spine straight
- spinal infections
- osteoarthritis or osteoporosis
- tumor in the spine
- bulging or ruptured disks
- kidney infection or kidney stones
Learning about the different types of back pain will help you describe your pain better. Clear descriptions enable doctors to make an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan for your back pain. The three most common classifications of back pain are:
Axial pain: The pain is confined to one spot or region
Referred pain: The pain tends to vary in location and intensity
Radicular pain: The searing or electric shock-like pain follows the path of the spinal nerve
Going to the doctor’s office for back pain
The uniquely complex nature of back pain makes it quite challenging to diagnose and treat. While you might be tempted to stick to home remedies and ‘ride it out,’ it is always advisable to see a medical professional. A physician will not only treat the symptoms of your pain but will also address its root cause. Doctors with expertise in pain management are the best qualified to create an individualized treatment approach for you.
You should see a doctor urgently if your back pain:
- Is extremely painful, even unbearable at times
- Does not improve with rest
- Keeps you from engaging in everyday activities
- Steadily gets worse
- Comes with weakness or numbness in the legs
- Is accompanied by unexplained weight loss
Spring Mountain Medical specializes in pain management, chiropractic care, and rehabilitative care. Our skilled medical practitioners are here to provide you with comprehensive and personalized back pain treatment so that you can enjoy a pain-free life.