indentify types of back pain

Understanding Different Types of Back Pain

Back pain can be a complex and difficult condition to diagnose and treat.  There are many possible causes and treatments available which may work or not work for the specific pain and area of the back.

The level, degree and manageability of pain are different for every person.  Some can tolerate pain better than others, for some they have pain that flares up from time to time or for them it is persistent and long lasting.  For some the pain gets worse gradually over time or presents itself as a sharp sudden pain.  To get the pain relief and care you need, you have to be your own best advocate and participate in making decisions about your medical care.

Common anatomical causes of back pain include:

  • The large nerve roots that go to the legs and arms may be irritated.
  • Smaller nerves in the spine may be irritated.
  • The large back muscles may be strained
  • The bones, ligaments or joints may be injured
  • The disks space if compressed can be a major cause of back pain.

Due to the large overlap of nerves to many of our anatomical structures in the spine it makes it almost impossible for our brain to differentiate between injuries to one structure versus another.  The outer rim of the disks in our spine can be a source of severe back pain due to the rich nerve supply and they have a tendency towards injuries.  Back pain can be divided onto three classifications-Axial, mechanical, and radicular back pains.

Axial back pain may cause constant pain or it may come and go.  The intensity of the pain can be mild to extremely severe.  Some may state their back is “just sore” after working in the garden or sitting for a long period of time.  While others state their pain is extreme and require assistance walking, standing or getting up from a chair.  One person may be able to stand straight without difficulty, while another may be bent over with a crooked posture.  The standard thing concerning axial back pain is it is mainly located in the lower back

Mechanical back pain, also called referred back pain is a non-specific pain with the exact location undefined, it seems to travel or move around.  This pain can become worse during certain activities or movements and is relieved by rest or a simple change of position.  Extended bed rest may make the pain and this condition worse.  This pain involves the muscles, ligaments and the small joints of the spine so it often responds well to spinal manipulation performed by a Chiropractor.

Radicular back pain is described as a deep constant pain.  It often follows the nerve down the leg and it often causes numbness, tingling and muscle weakness.  Sciatic pain is an example of the radicular back pain.  The pain radiates along the sciatic nerve-down the back of the thigh, calf and into the foot.  Radicular back pain occurs after an injury to a spinal nerve, a disk protrusion or bulge, arthritis or a narrowing of the opening through which the nerve exits.  Surgery may be required for some patients, but more often traditional medical treatments, such as physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medication and pain relievers are helpful in relieving the pain and helping to promote healing.

To get the relief you need the information you provide will help your medical professional to determine the type of pain you have and how to treat it.  Back pain is no fun, so treat your back well, to keep it pain free.

Barbara Lucore

I have been a nurse for 15+ years and as a nurse I understand how to prevent back strain and pain. The correct ways to lift objects, the causes of back pain, treatments available, the exercises to reduce or prevent back pain and the proper ways to move without strain or injury to your back.