Back Pain Overview
Back pain symptoms may include feelings of muscle ache, stabbing or shooting pain, stiff or limited flexibility in the back or lower back, inability to stand with proper posture and radiating pain down one or both legs.
Back pain can have many causes, and many times, back pain will resolve itself in two to four weeks with rest, ice and heat. In fact, 80 percent of Americans will experience back pain at some point in their lives, making back pain one of the most common reasons people visit back pain clinics or miss work.
While it is estimated that four out of five people will experience back pain at some point in their lives, back pain that lasts longer than a few weeks is not normal.
Causes of Back Pain
Did you know that muscle-related pain is one of the most common reasons for overall back pain? It is true. Muscle related pain can be caused by improper lifting techniques, overuse, poor posture or a sudden awkward movement or fall.
Spinal or Disc Problems
Bulging or Herniated Discs: Spinal discs are soft cushions between vertebra. Sometimes, the soft jelly-like substance inside the disc can bulge out of place or rupture, putting pressure on the surrounding nerves causing back pain. Disc related back pain can be caused by an injury. Interestingly, some people who have bulging or herniated discs will never experience any back pain.
Sciatica refers to pain that stems from the sciatic nerve, a large nerve extending from the lower back down the back of each leg. Sciatica is not a disorder, but a symptom of another underlying problem, such as spinal stenosis, a pinched/irritated nerve in the lower back or a herniated disc.
Other Painful Conditions
If you have spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease, scoliosis, compression fractures, arthritis or osteoporosis you may also experience pain in the back. These back pain conditions can be treated with conservative, minimally invasive procedures.
Risk Factors for Back Pain
There are a few factors that can increase your risk of developing back pain, such as: smoking, obesity, age, physical labor, sedentary work and depression.
To help determine the cause of your back pain, there are several diagnostic tests that can be performed by a back pain doctor or back pain specialist. These may include Xrays, MRI, CT Scan and an Electromyography (EMG). An X-ray shows the alignment of the bones in your spine and whether you have any broken or arthritic bones that may be causing back pain. MRI and CT Scan tests show images of bone, muscle, tissue, nerves, blood vessels, tendons and ligaments. These tests can show disc herniation, muscle tears, ligament problems and can help your clinic doctor or back pain specialist understand your back pain. Electromyography (EMG) is a test used to study nerve and muscle function.
Back Pain Treatment Options
At Nura, our clinic doctors and back pain specialists value the importance of an interdisciplinary approach. There are a number of treatment options that help reduce back pain, which include:
- Physical Therapy
- Epidural Steroid Injection
- Facet Joint Injection
- Trigger Point Injection
- Radiofrequency Ablation
- Sacroiliac Joint Injection
Preparing for Your Doctor Appointment
Before your back pain appointment with your clinic doctor or back pain clinic specialist, take note of some important facts.
- Is your back pain the result of an injury?
- What movements increase or decrease your back pain?
- What are the symptoms you have been feeling?
- How long have you had this back pain?
- What does your back pain feel like? Dull, aching, stabbing or shooting?
- What type of work do you do?
- What treatments or medications have you already tried to resolve your back pain?
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