Pain Management

January 24, 2017

The ABCs of Back Problems


What kind of back problem do you have? Evaluate your back pain and where it’s coming from to understand your condition and treatment options.

The first step to finding the best back pain treatment is recognizing what type of back problem you have and why. But sometimes, that’s easier said than done with chronic back pain issues. The human spine is vulnerable to a wide range of injuries and dysfunctions, so your doctor has to pinpoint the specific cause before they recommend a form of treatment. To make a decision about the kind of back pain treatment you need, start by learning more about the most common types of back problems, organized alphabetically for your convenience.

Acute Back Pain
Acute back pain usually results from an injury or tissue damage. Without undergoing physical therapy or another form of treatment, acute back pain can persists up to 6 months.

Chronic Back Pain
Chronic back pain persists for long periods of time, even in the absence of tissue damage. Chronic back pain may be caused by your everyday habits or an underlying back problem.

Spinal defects and curvature problems cause your spine to develop unnaturally, leading to pain, limited mobility and alignment issues. If these deformities cause increasing back pain, spinal surgery is likely the best method of treatment.

Degenerative Disc Disease
Degenerative disc disease causes severe back and neck pain while you are lifting, bending, twisting or engaging in other physical activities. You may also experience light pain and numbness when resting. If steroid injections do not relieve your back pain, surgery may be needed to address a bad case of degenerative disc disease.

Disc Herniation
The result of a herniated disc is that the soft interior of your spinal discs leaks out, putting pressure on spinal nerves that causes pain, numbness and a tingling sensation in your lower back.

Fibromyalgia leads to generalized pain and stiffness in various parts of your body, often starting in your lower back. It can also cause fatigue and sleep problems, so fibromyalgia is difficult to diagnose.

Lower Back Pain
Because it depends on a variety of muscles, bones, nerves and discs working together, your lower back is especially vulnerable to pain. While lower back pain may indicate a more serious type of back problem, you may just need to change your habits to reduce your pain.

As you age, your bone mineral density (BMD) starts to decrease. This condition is called osteoporosis and it slowly thins your bones, making them weaker and more vulnerable to spinal fractures. Fractures can be misdiagnosed without proper testing, so talk to your doctor if you’re experiencing acute back pain. Undiagnosed spinal fractures can lead to deformities, muscle loss and changes in your height.

Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction
Caused when the joint between your pelvis and the sacrum moves, sacroiliac joint dysfunction causes lower back pain that may radiate into your groin, hips and buttocks. The symptoms are similar to those of disc herniation and disc degeneration, making this disease difficult to diagnose.

The result of pressure on the sciatic nerve, sciatica produces sharp pain in your back, legs and/or buttocks, often only on one side. The pain may flare up when you stand or sit, but shrink when walking or lying down.

Spinal Tumor
Both benign and malignant tumors put pressure on your spine, causing weakness in your legs and arms, changes in your bladder and bowel function, and persistent back pain regardless of your position.

Spinal Stenosis
Spinal stenosis occurs when your spine narrows and puts pressure on your spinal nerve and cord. This condition leads to pain in your lower back, arms and legs that is most severe while walking, bicycling or standing up straight.

Caused by one vertebra moving over another one, spondylolisthesis leads to a deep, aching pain in your lower back, especially when walking or standing upright. Your pain may radiate into your thighs, buttocks, knees, and even feet. In some cases, spinal fusion surgery may the best way to treat back pain from spondylolisthesis.

Upper Back Pain
Although less vulnerable than your lower back, your upper back can experience pain due to muscle irritation and joint issues. Upper back pain could also occur in conjunction with shoulder pain, which is often the case with sports injuries.

Arkansas Surgical Hospital offers spinal surgery, interventional pain management and other types of back pain treatment in Arkansas. If you need help with a particular type of back problem, contact us today at (877) 918-7020.

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