Back pain is one of the most complex and confounding conditions in medicine. There are several types of back pain, typically classified by their cause. These forms of back pain may originate in the back muscles, ligaments, and spinal structures, or even as a result of problems in other parts of the body.
Below, we’ll discuss some of the most prominent types of back pain, along with the causes of each.
Muscle strains are one of the most common lower back pain causes. A strain is a type of injury that affects muscle or tendon tissue. Tendons attach muscle to bone.
With a strain, the affected muscle or tendon has either been pulled, torn, or twisted. This injury is usually caused by overuse, such as engaging in strenuous physical activity that your body isn’t accustomed to. For example, you may sustain a back strain if you lift more weight than your body can safely handle.
Symptoms of muscle strains include muscle weakness, inflammation, cramping, and spasms. You may also experience a reduced range of motion in the back.
A back strain can result in severe lower back pain. However, the pain will remain localized and won’t radiate down to the legs. This is in contrast to back pain caused by certain spinal conditions, which can cause pain that spreads to the extremities.
Sprains and strains are commonly mixed up as back pain types. However, while strains involve muscle or tendon tissue, sprains involve injury to a ligament. Ligaments attach bones within a joint and provide stability to that joint.
With a back sprain, the ligaments in the spine are forced out of their usual position. This is typically caused by a fall, sudden trauma, or forceful twist.
Symptoms of ligament sprains are similar to muscle strains but take longer to heal. While a mild strain typically heals within three to six weeks, a sprain may take between six to eight weeks (or even several months) to heal. If you don’t allow a back sprain to heal properly, it can give rise to chronic back pain.
Although anyone, at any age, can sustain a back strain or sprain, you may be at a higher risk of developing one of these injuries if you:
Back strains and sprains can hamper your day-to-day activities and cause significant pain. To reduce your risk of developing these common back injuries, follow these tips:
Patients who are only experiencing pain on one side of the back often wonder about the cause of their pain. Both lower left back pain and lower right back pain can be caused by injuries to the muscles or ligaments that uphold the spine. One-sided back pain may also be triggered by spinal injuries and conditions.
However, one-sided back pain can also indicate an issue with the kidney, intestines, or reproductive organs. If this is the case, you’ll likely experience additional symptoms, such as nausea, pain while urinating, and/or fever.
Stress-related back pain isn’t an official diagnosis. But, there’s no denying that stress can play a significant role in the development of back pain.
Your body’s natural reaction to concerning, unpleasant, or scary situations is stress. When you feel stressed out, your body releases various chemicals and triggers physical reactions to protect you. These chemicals include cortisol and adrenaline, which tends to cause an involuntary tensing of your muscles.
This is a primal response that’s largely unhelpful against the stressors that people experience today, such as a deadline at work or a complicated social situation.
Frequent stress can lead to significant tension in the back. This may lead to chronic lower back pain when left unaddressed.
A 2021 study published in Scientific Reports confirmed that the severity of stress is directly correlated to chronic lower back pain. Specifically, severe stress was associated with a 2.8-fold increase in the risk of chronic lower back pain.
Spinal conditions are common types of lower back pain. Many of the most common spinal conditions trigger back pain by exerting pressure on the spinal nerves. This typically leads to what’s known as a pinched nerve. A pinched nerve can cause localized pain, much like a muscle strain, but may also involve other parts of the body.
Pinched nerves in the lower, or lumbar region of the spine, can cause burning lower back and leg pain. Surprisingly, a pinched nerve in this region can also have far-reaching effects on the bladder, appendix, large intestine, sex organs, knees, and prostate.
While several different spinal conditions can trigger back pain, the most common include:
A herniated disc occurs when the soft interior of an intervertebral disc protrudes through a damaged portion of the disc interior. The injured disc may push on spinal nerves, causing back pain and other symptoms.
Spinal stenosis develops if the space in the spinal canal becomes more limited. This may result from thickening spinal ligaments, a bulging or herniated disc, and osteoarthritis, among other factors.
Degenerative disc disease refers to symptoms of gradual, age-related spinal disc deterioration. As people grow older, the spinal discs become drier, thinner, and weaker, making them more prone to damage.
Spondylolisthesis occurs when spinal instability causes a vertebra to slip out of its normal position onto the vertebra beneath it. This can cause back pain and neurological symptoms. Although there are many possible causes of spondylolisthesis, the most common are degenerative spinal changes and spinal defects.
Osteoarthritis is also known as wear and tear arthritis. This condition occurs when the cartilage that cushions the joints starts to deteriorate. If osteoarthritis impacts the facet joints in the spine, it can lead to back pain.
When someone has scoliosis, it means that their spine is abnormally curved. This curve may cause back pain in a few different ways. It may cause spinal stenosis, disc degeneration, and facet joint damage. The curved spine can also press on nerves, leading to neurological symptoms.
Several factors can lead to the development of spinal conditions that cause lower back pain. The most prevalent of these factors include age-related spinal degeneration, spinal injuries and disorders, and congenital spinal defects. To understand exactly what’s causing your lower back pain, you’ll need a diagnosis from a qualified physician.
Numerous approaches exist for lower back pain relief in patients with spinal disorders. Almost always, physicians will start with a non-surgical treatment plan for six to 12 months before considering surgery. Most patients don’t need surgery to recover from the symptoms of various spinal conditions.
Simple rest, lifestyle modifications, medications, and physical therapy are among the beneficial non-invasive approaches to alleviate different types of lower back pain.
When patients continue to experience debilitating back pain after months of non-surgical treatment, surgery may be required. Additionally, spinal specialists may recommend surgery if the patient is experiencing significant disability as a result of their condition.
Thankfully, even serious spinal conditions can today be effectively treated with advanced microsurgical procedures. Innovative approaches to spinal decompression surgery use endoscopic techniques for smaller incisions, less blood loss, and less tissue damage.
Advanced, minimally-invasive spinal procedures offer relief from conditions that have condemned previous generations to crippling pain and restricted mobility.
After spinal decompression, spinal fusion is often performed to stabilize the affected portion of the spine. The fusion process involves positioning bone graft material in between the affected vertebrae. The graft will, in the months following the procedure, permanently join the adjacent vertebrae.
Though decompression spinal surgery can dramatically alleviate pain and other symptoms of compressed or pinched nerves, spinal fusion eliminates the independent motion of the fused vertebrae. This limits patients’ activities and increases the risk of degeneration in the surrounding vertebrae.
Today, the limitations of spinal fusion have been surmounted. The TOPS™ System from Premia Spine provides a clinically proven superior alternative to spinal fusion. This non-fusion spinal implant replaces the tissues removed during decompression surgery while preserving the full, independent motion of each vertebra.
If you’re experiencing back pain, don’t hesitate to see a qualified physician. You can achieve relief with the variety of treatment options available today.
Tissues throughout the body experience natural changes as we age – including bone tissue. Bone spurs are a possible complication of osteoarthritis, which occurs when the cartilage in the joints deteriorates with age.
Spinal bone spurs are highly common among older individuals. While they’re not painful on their own, spinal bone spurs can irritate neighboring tissue, leading to a range of symptoms.
Thankfully, patients now have more treatment options than ever for spinal bone spurs. Continue reading to learn about these treatments and how you can attain relief from spinal bone spur symptoms.
A bone spur is a smooth lump of excess bone that develops on the edge of a regular bone, such as the facet joints of the spine. Most commonly, bone spurs occur in individuals over the age of 60.
As we’ve already mentioned, bone spurs in the spinal column most commonly result from osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is widely referred to as wear and tear arthritis, as it leads to the degeneration of joint cartilage over time. When the cartilage breaks down, the increased friction in the joint can lead to bone spur formation.
Certain factors can increase your risk of developing spinal bone spurs, including:
Spinal bone spurs and spinal stenosis are often closely linked. Bone spurs can cause or contribute to spinal stenosis, which is an unnatural narrowing of the spinal canal.
Spinal stenosis bone spurs can place pressure on spinal nerves and/or the spinal cord. As a result, patients may experience neurological symptoms including:
Bone spurs on the spine are very common and not considered a dangerous condition. However, if the spurs irritate nearby tissues and nerves, they can cause painful symptoms that may worsen with time. Patients experiencing symptoms from spinal bone spurs should receive prompt medical care to prevent worsening pain.
Spinal bone spur treatment may be surgical or non-surgical. The majority of patients don’t need surgery to make a full recovery from spinal bone spurs.
Non-surgical treatment for spinal bone spurs can include:
Physical therapy is one of the main non-surgical treatments available for spinal bone spurs. Through exercises, hands-on manipulation, and lifestyle recommendations, your physical therapist can help relieve pressure on the spinal nerves caused by bone spurs.
Chiropractors specialize in spinal manipulation and other methods of alleviating pain by improving the alignment of the spine. A chiropractor can help you overcome symptoms of a spinal bone spur with a range of non-invasive techniques.
Excess weight places added pressure on the spine. So, by reaching and maintaining a healthy weight, it’s possible to reduce the stress on irritated spinal nerves. This can promote healing and reduce pain from bone spurs.
Over-the-counter pain medications can help patients manage pain and other symptoms of spinal bone spurs. Most often, physicians recommend non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, or NSAIDs, such as Advil and Aleve. In more severe cases, physicians may prescribe stronger pain medications or muscle relaxants.
Exercises for spinal bone spurs can help alleviate pain, discomfort, and stiffness. Your physical therapist may recommend specific exercises to help resolve your symptoms, such as:
The child’s pose involves kneeling on the floor with the toes together and the knees approximately hip distance apart. Once in this position, slowly bend the torso forward so that it rests between your knees, extending your arms forward with the palms facing down. In this position, more space opens up in the spine, which relieves pressure on the irritated spinal nerves.
To complete a lower back twist, lie flat on your back. Bend your knees with your feet flat on the floor and put your arms out in a T position. Then, move both knees to one side while keeping the shoulders flat on the floor. Hold this position for 30 seconds, then switch sides.
During this exercise, begin on your hands and knees. Both your hands and knees should be hip-width apart. Then, gently round your back, bringing the back of your spine as close to the ceiling as possible, and hold this position for five seconds. Next, gently arch the back, bringing the stomach towards the floor, and hold the position for five seconds.
Bone spurs are very common among older individuals. Over 40% of people who develop bone spurs with symptoms will require medical treatment.
Physicians generally have patients undergo several months of non-invasive treatment before recommending surgery for bone spurs. However, if patients don’t notice a significant improvement in their symptoms after this approach, surgery may be required.
Spinal bone spur surgery typically includes spinal decompression. There are multiple approaches to spinal decompression for bone spurs, the most common of which include bone spur removal and laminectomy.
Bone spur removal involves surgically removing the bone spurs from the vertebrae. This effectively alleviates bone spur symptoms. Unfortunately, bone spurs can return over time, which is why your surgeon may recommend a different treatment route.
Laminectomy involves removing some of the laminae to create more space for the spinal cord. This form of spinal decompression gives the nerves space to heal and can resolve symptoms of bone spurs.
Conventionally, spinal fusion is performed with spinal decompression to prevent instability.
The success rate for spinal decompression surgery has been estimated at around 70% to 90%. Bone spur surgery is widely recognized as a safe, effective procedure for patients struggling with bone spur symptoms.
The recovery from bone spur surgery depends on whether or not spinal fusion is performed. Alone, spinal decompression surgery for bone spurs involves a recovery period of between two and six weeks. You can likely return to light physical activity about three to four weeks after the procedure.
If spinal fusion is performed along with decompression, the recovery period will be longer. Patients generally need four to six weeks to return to a desk job after fusion, and three months or more to return to physical activity.
After spinal decompression surgery, doctors generally recommend that you stand and walk for short periods to promote healing. However, your ability to walk may be limited during your hospital stay after the procedure, which can be four days or more after spinal fusion.
Medical advancements have led to spinal fusion alternatives that allow you to walk soon after bone spur surgery. One of these innovations is the TOPS System, a spinal implant that can improve outcomes for patients with spinal stenosis bone spurs.
If you’re suffering from debilitating bone spur symptoms, talk to your doctor about the range of treatment options available today.
Back pain is a very common ailment which can sometimes ease by itself within a few weeks, or months. However, back pain may also be related to a number of conditions which may need medical treatment, physical therapy or even surgery.
Lower back (lumbar) pain is the most common form of back pain but a person can experience pain in any part of the spine, from the neck, down to the hips. Taking painkillers, avoiding overly strenuous activities and keeping mobile can help reduce this pain but in some cases it can last for a long period of time, or regularly return. If this is the case then you should seek a medical consultation.
Is back pain related to age?
Back pain is not just a symptom of aging. Anyone, of any age, in any physical condition, can and will likely experience back pain at some point in their life. So if you are experiencing back pain, do not think that you’re alone. There are even cases of teenage athletes who have experienced back pain and thus seek the same medical care that you may require.
However, if the back pain is severe and related to conditions such as stenosis, then this may require an operation. If so, it is important to be aware that major surgery could result in complications and a person who is classed as elderly may be more at risk than someone in their 20s for example.
What can cause back pain?
While getting older can be a cause of back pain, as your body’s discs, joints, muscles, and ligaments wear down and become more prone to injury, and while many people experience their first back pain episodes while in their 30s and 40s, there are other primary causes of back pain which include:
Effective treatment for back pain
Below is a list of effective treatments you can do yourself to ease back pain:
More advanced treatments which may help include:
Surgery to alleviate back pain
In short, anyone can get back pain at differing levels, in various regions of the spine.
If you display symptoms of back pain and it is impacting your life then try some of the home-based treatments, or visit your local doctor to see how they can help ease the pain.
Tackling back pain early can help avoid potential surgery and long-term damage.
Find out more about back-related issues in the other articles published in our blog here.
Lower back pain can be extremely debilitating and can prevent you from doing the things you love, as well as potentially impacting your work. Whether you are over the age of 60, or young and athletic, lower back pain is a possibility and could be a result of even the smallest of injuries, or bad habits, as well as a range of other medical reasons.
Below are a series of frequently asked questions relating to lower back pain which will hopefully give you an understanding of what may cause the problem and how it can be treated effectively.
What are the main causes of lower back pain?
Lower back pain causes can vary and could stem from a range of things, even something rather innocuous.
Here is a comprehensive list of the possible causes of lower back pain.
What could lower right back pain mean?
Pain in the lower right of the back could mean issues with the actual mechanics of your back and abdomen, namely; the spine, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. However, it could also be related to your organs and be linked to a number of infections, including kidney stones.
If you notice lower right back pain then you should pay a visit to your local doctor.
How can I find lower back pain relief?
Staying active can be an effective way of relieving pain in your lower back as it encourages blood flow and can speed up the recovery process. If moving regularly causes discomfort, then painkillers can also be taken after exercising.
Stretching is also another good way of reducing pain levels in the back and many of these can be done at home by following a book, TV, or Youtube.
Also, consider using hot and cold packs during periods of pain, a hot bath can also offer similar relief.
Lower back pain treatment – What to avoid
When treating lower back pain, the following is not recommended:
What should I avoid if I have pain in the lower back?
If you have pain in your lower back then you should pay particular attention to your posture and general movement. Try not to slouch, or hunch over, avoid bending over repetitively and make an attempt to move as much as possible, including leisurely walks and gentle exercises.
What if my lower back pain treatment doesn’t work?
If you find that none of the recommended treatments, exercises, or physical therapy are working then you should arrange a consultation with your doctor and discuss the possibility of surgery. This could be Spinal Fusion Surgery or the implementation of a mechanical implant device such as the TOPS System.
Read more about the TOPS System here which has a better chance of preserving motion and maintaining stability when compared to spinal fusion surgery.
Lumbar radicular pain is caused by the compression of nerve roots in your spine. The disease associated with it is known as lumbar radiculopathy.
The symptoms of this disease can manifest themselves in many different ways. Pain, weakness, and numbness of the buttock or leg are the most common signs of lumbar radiculopathy developing.
Another word for this disease is Sciatica. The leg-related pain caused by this disease is directly related to the compression of the nerve roots in your spine. This is different from other types of spinal compression, which cause pain in the lumbar spine, also called referred pain.
Causes of Lumbar Radicular Pain
There are a number of different conditions that can lead to lumbar radiculopathy. The sole requirement for this disease to develop in your spine is the irritation or compression of the spinal nerve roots.
As a result, there are many alternative conditions that can cause it:
Due to the probability of lumbar radicular pain being the result of multiple spinal issues, it can be extremely painful and difficult to treat.
The implants that Premia Spine offers its patients are designed to make the surgery you undergo easier and less painful.
It’s our goal to assist in helping you get back to your best as soon as possible, with as little pain as possible.
Before you diagnose yourself with any lumbar condition, whether it’s radiculopathy or something else, you need to see a spinal doctor for a professional diagnosis.
Your doctor can give you a full physical exam, as well as look for any issues you have related to the balance or movement of your spine.
Your doctor is going to check for things like the loss of your extremity reflexes, and issues with your senses, weakness of the muscles, or any unusual reflexes which may indicate that your spinal cord is involved.
After this physical exam, if your doctor suspects you might have a lumbar radicular issue, you’re going to need to get an X-ray and an MRI.
These two are the most commonly used methods of image testing to evaluate whether or not you have lumbar radiculopathy. However, a CT myelogram can be utilized instead of an MRI is not possible due to a pacemaker or something similar.
How to Treat Lumbar Radicular Pain
There are a number of different surgical treatments that can be used for lumbar radiculopathy, depending on what alternative spinal condition was the cause of it.
Typically speaking, all of these surgeries involve decompressing the nerve in some way or stabilizing the spine.
It’s crucial that you speak to your spinal doctor and seek treatment for spinal radiculopathy as soon as possible.
Not only can the condition be exceedingly painful, but the longer you leave it untreated, the higher the risk that your symptoms can develop into permanent conditions.
In more extreme cases where a person left their lumbar radiculopathy untreated for an extensive period of time, there is a heightened risk of paralysis developing.
With a combination of treatment and the possibility of surgery, symptoms can improve within six weeks to three months.
Radicular Pain Symptoms
Due to the nature of the compressed nerve, radicular pain symptoms primarily revolve around the foot and leg.
There are a number of different potential symptoms that a person may experience, including:
There are several other symptoms that you may experience, but these are by far the most common indicators of a developing radicular problem.
How Prima Spine Helps Ease Lumbar Radicular Pain
Our TOPS system is a spinal alternative to fusion that not only makes surgery and day-to-day life less painful, but it ensures that you maintain a full range of motion after you’ve healed from the surgery.
In extreme cases of lumbar radicular pain, it may be necessary for you to undergo surgery.
This is particularly common in cases where the pain is left untreated and develops into a much bigger and more painful operation.
In the event of this happening, our specialists are here to help. If you have any questions about the TOPS system, lumbar radicular pain, or anything else related to the health of your spine, our agents are here to chat.
You can get in touch with us through our website. From there, we can advise you on what measures you should take to help treat your back pain, as well as whether or not you should consider the TOPS system as a surgical solution.
Lumbar Radicular Pain FAQs
How Can I Sleep with Lumbar Radicular Pain?
A common issue that a lot of people suffering from lumbar radicular pain have is managing to fall asleep at night. The ache and pain of the condition can result in tossing and turning, ultimately leading you to a sleepless night.
Many people that suffer from conditions like spinal stenosis find that the most comfortable position to ease back pain while sleeping is on their side in the fetal position.
The fetal position is when you curl your knees up towards your abdomen while lying on your side.
Alternatively, you could try ensuring that your head and knees are elevated in some capacity while you sleep, either through the use of pillows, your position or by using an adjustable bed or recliner.
Do I Have to Get Surgery if I have Lumbar Radiculopathy?
It is not always necessary to undergo surgery for lumbar radiculopathy. It’s only in cases where the condition is extreme or has been fully left untreated that you are going to need a more extensive operation.
Whether or not you need surgery is also related to the lumbar issue that caused your radiculopathy in the first place.
Before deciding on how you want to treat your pain, always seek the professional opinion of your doctor. Get an X-ray, MRI, and a full physical done, and allow them to deduce what your best course of action is.
In the event that the lumbar Radicular pain isn’t being caused by any significant issue, it’s possible to treat it with specific exercises and physical therapy that has been designed to specifically stabilize the spine
These exercises help your spine to promote more open space so that the compressed spinal nerve roots have more room.
As well as physical therapy, you can complement your treatment through the use of medications.
Always take medications on the advice of your doctor, and make sure that they give you a prescription for anything you’re taking while treating lumbar radiculopathy.
Typical medications that you are going to be prescribed while treating lumbar radiculopathy are the likes of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
These drugs are designed to reduce the swelling that may be causing the nerve compression and can also help relieve the pain while you work towards a more permanent solution to the issue.
If you do try to treat your lumbar radiculopathy manually and without therapy, it can take six to 12 weeks of constant treatment for you to see results.
However, this route helps you to avoid what could be a difficult and expensive surgery.