There is an estimated 80% of American adults who will experience some form of back pain at any point of their lives. This is a temporary phenomenon that is often associated with full recovery without having to undergo significant medical attention. However, there is a considerable percentage of patients who will develop sever symptoms that might require medical attention.
What causes back pain?
Back pain usually roots from a disease or injury to the structural components of the spine, but it can also be related to “referred pain,” or pain in other parts of the body. Spine Center of Texas can differentiate the cause of back pain depending on the components involved.
- Musculoskeletal pain – this type refers to pain coming from the muscles and the skeletons located around the spine. Most athletic injuries and such syndromes as fibromyalgia and myofascial pain are samples of this pain.
- Skeletal pain – this type of pain can root from non0infectious inflammation of the spine (spondylitis), infections of the spine (osteomyelitis), fractures of the spine, such as vertebral compression fractures, and/or tumors of the skeletal system.
- Disc problems – Back pain can also be generated by the discs. Spinal discs tend to lose moisture and get thinner (spondylosis) as we age, resulting to herniation or bulging of the discs. The discs can cause the pain, but they can also cause pain by impinging on the spinal cord or nerve roots. Sciatica is a classic example of a nerve root impingement syndrome.
- Disc degeneration – Degeneration in the spinal discs and joints can unite and result to narrowing of the spinal canal. This causes spinal stenosis, which typically results in pain or weakness down both legs whenever a patient stands or walks. On rare cases, disc material can directly impinge on the spinal cord, causing a cauda equina syndrome. This is sometimes associated with loss of bladder control and requires immediate medical attention.
- Referred pain – Referred pain comes from abnormalities outside the structural components of the back. Common causes are kidney stones, bladder and pelvic infections, and intra-abdominal causes, such as pancreatitis, gallstones, or vascular aneurysms.
How is back pain diagnosed?
Your doctor may need to utilize one or numerous tests in order to help diagnose and cure your back pain. A thorough history and physical examination is usually taken as the first step in diagnosing back pain. Your medical practitioner might require further testing depending on the type of pain you’re experiencing. He might suggest imaging with MRI and/or CT scanning or a pyelogram wherein a dye is injected into a spinal canal. Nerve conduction studies can also be performed to help assess nerve involvement and injury.