back pain causes and treatment

Back Pain

Learn the cause of back pain and its treatments

Back pain itself is not a medical condition but rather a symptom of one. Back pain may be felt in both the upper and lower regions but by far, the lower back is the most common source for pain. Complications from injury, age, strain, stress, disease, infection and a host of other problems can cause pain. Most episodes of back pain can be treated at home with stretching, rest and over-the-counter pain relievers. In some instances, physical therapy is required. In rare cases of injury, disk disease or spinal cord compression, surgery may be required.

Back Pain Symptoms

The symptoms of back pain may be subtle, or debilitating

Severity of back pain will vary depending upon the source, a person’s pain threshold and how suddenly the pain appears. Pain can range from subtle and nagging to debilitating. Specifically, the symptoms of back pain are commonly described as:

  • Ache that seems to emanate from the muscles (sudden onset)
  • Ache that is dull and persistent (slow onset)
  • Stabbing or shooting sensation
  • Muscle spasms
  • Pain that radiates down the leg
  • Pain that radiates in to one buttock
  • Unable to straighten back without discomfort

Back Pain Causes

What makes your back ache?

The back is comprised of ligaments, muscles, tendons, bones and disks, all connected via interconnected and overlapping layers. Back pain can be attributed to a problem with any of these structures.

Typical and most reported causes for back pain include:

  • Back strain (lumbar muscle strain)
  • Improper lifting
  • Standing and/or sitting too long
  • Quickly moving in or out of an awkward position
  • Pregnancy
  • Obesity

Mechanical Problems:

  • Arthritis – Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Herniated/Bulging disk – Soft spongy material between the vertebrae and spine slips out of place and presses on a nerve
  • Spondylolisthesis – Vertebrae slips out of place
  • Spinal stenosis – Narrowing of the spinal column
  • Injuries – Fracture or sprain

Back Pain Resulting From Chronic Disease or Illness:

  • Osteoporosis – Bones that become brittle may begin to compress
  • Ankylosing Spondilitis – Inflammation of the joints between spinal bones
  • Infection of the spine
  • Kidney Stones
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Scoliosis – Curvature of the spine
  • Cancer

Back Pain Treatment

Medications and physical therapy can get this ailment under control.

lady with back pain
Lady with back pain

The treatment course for back pain will vary depending on the diagnosis. In common cases of back sprain, treatment can be achieved by gently stretching the muscles, rest, over-the-counter pain relievers or using nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) drugs.

Physical therapy is a popular course of treatment prescribed by doctors. In physical therapy, back pain is treated with a variety of different methods including massage, heat, ice and ultrasound. Once the patient is feeling better, therapists review exercises that can be used at home to alleviate pain, strengthen the back and in many cases, keep pain from returning.

Medication: A short or long course of medication may be prescribed including: Narcotics – Short term. Supervised. (Codeine, Hydrocodone, Oxycodone) Prescription Nonsteroidal Drugs: (Celebrex, Daypro, Relafen) Injection: Steroids (Cortisone)

Surgery: Surgical intervention is rare and used only as a last result. Injury repair, spinal fusion and disk repair are all surgical techniques used to alleviate the cause of back pain.

Back Pain Prevention

Easy ways to keep back pain at bay

With the exception of back pain that occurs as a direct result of injury or illness, most pain can be prevented by following a healthy regimen of diet, exercise and stretching techniques. As the body ages, it requires extra TLC, particularly the back.

Healthy Practices to Prevent Back Pain:

  • Stretch: Before exercise, after exercise and just because. Stretching is beneficial to all ligaments in the back and their attached structures.
  • Lose weight: Carrying extra weight in the front, puts extra strain on the back. – Exercise: Keeps the body limber
  • Abdominal Exercise: Strengthens the core muscles in the stomach that aid the back
  • Yoga: Improves flexibility

Back Pain Resources

Spine-Health –