FAQ’s on Back Pain
What is back pain?
When a patient is having symptoms of pain in their back, it can be from either an acute or a chronic condition. It is important for a patient to understand the difference between the two and how each is treated. Acute pain is the result of a single, new incident developing. The most common method of providing relief for acute back pain is to treat the root cause.
Contrary to this, chronic back pain is the result of pain persisting when the cause has already had attempts at treatment made. Only recently has chronic pain begun to be treated as a stand-alone condition instead of being thought of as symptoms that lingered beyond treatment. Since chronic pain has begun to be diagnosed as a condition rather than a symptom, new developments in the options available to patients for treatment have been made.
What are the causes of back pain?
The root cause of back pain for a patient will vary based on what has occurred to the patient. Acute back pain is the result of numerous conditions that can occur suddenly and unexpectedly. Common acute conditions include spinal injury, a sudden pain related to arthritic damage, compression of a nerve, herniation or rupturing of a disc, or a tearing of ligament or muscle in a joint.
Chronic pain is the result of one or more of the aforementioned conditions continuing to be a source of symptomatic pain for a patient even after attempts at treatment have been made. In many cases, chronic symptoms of pain no longer have a root cause and are the cumulative result of multiple conditions in the body.
The symptoms of back pain
The symptoms seen in both acute and chronic back pain will vary based on what has happened. Acute pain from an injury may manifest due to tissue damage, or damage to the structure of bones. Acute spinal back pain may produce a loss of function in the damaged area, or pain that occurs only during specific movements of the spine, as symptoms. Acute pain resulting from a damaged or compressed nerve may also have muscle weakness or numbness present as symptoms.
While chronic pain will have symptoms similar to the acute pain felt for a given condition, there can be a large degree of variability from patient to patient. There may also be unforeseen symptoms of pain that cannot be traced back to the root cause, but that are still present for the patient. These are called associated pains.
Red flag Indicators with back pain
- Stress, or encroachment of spinal nerves, could cause a weakness in one leg or foot.
- A lumbar disc protrusion affecting the spinal cord may cause a decrease in urinary detention or the loss of bladder control.
- If rest is affected, combined with pain, the cause could be Kidney stones or a kidney infection.
- A herniated disc or pathological process could cause radiation of numbness and pain down one, or both, legs.
What treatment options are available?
There is now a strong degree of separation between treatments for acute and chronic back pain. Acute back pain is typically treated by identifying, diagnosing, and providing treatment for the root cause of pain. For many patients, this is enough to provide symptomatic relief and to return them back to their normal daily routine.
Chronic back pain however is the result of an acute treatment that was not able to account for every symptomatic cause. A multidisciplinary approach is the normal treatment for chronic pain, with patients experiencing a combination of medication, therapy, nerve block injections if applicable, and ultimately surgical correction as required as the last step in the treatment process.