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Back Pain Overview
Back pain includes lower back pain, middle back pain, upper back pain or low back pain with sciatica. Nerve and muscular problems, degenerative disc disease, and arthritis can result in back pain. The symptoms may be relived with pain medication or pain killers.
This is a common complaint. Most people in the United States will experience pain at least once during their lives. Back pain is one of the most common reasons people go to the doctor or miss work.
On the bright side, you can take measures to prevent or lessen most back pain episodes. If prevention fails, simple home treatment and proper body mechanics will often heal your back within a few weeks and keep it functional for the long haul. Surgery is rarely needed to treat back pain.
What Are the Symptoms of Back Pain?
Most people have experienced back pain sometime in their life. The causes are numerous; some are self-inflicted due to a lifetime of bad habits. Other causes include accidents, muscle strains, and sports injuries. Although the causes may be different, most often they share the same symptoms.
Symptoms of back pain may include:
♦ Muscle ache
♦ Shooting or stabbing pain
♦ Pain that radiates down your leg
♦ Limited flexibility or range of motion of the back
♦ Inability to stand up straight
What Are the Causes of Back Pain?
Back pain often develops without a specific cause that your doctor can identify with a test or imaging study. Conditions commonly linked to back pain include:
♦ Muscle or ligament strain. Repeated heavy lifting or a sudden awkward movement may strain back muscles and spinal ligaments. If you’re in poor physical condition, constant strain on your back may cause painful muscle spasms.
♦ Bulging or ruptured disks. Disks act as cushions between the individual bones (vertebrae) in your spine. Sometimes, the soft material inside a disk may bulge out of place or rupture and press on a nerve. The presence of a bulging or ruptured disk on an X-ray doesn’t automatically equal back pain, though. Disk disease is often found incidentally; many people who don’t have back pain turn out to have bulging or ruptured disks when they undergo spine X-rays for some other reason.
♦ Arthritis. Osteoarthritis can affect the lower back. In some cases, arthritis in the spine can lead to a narrowing of the space around the spinal cord, a condition called spinal stenosis.
♦ Skeletal irregularities. Back pain can occur if your spine curves in an abnormal way. Scoliosis, a condition in which your spine curves to the side, also may lead to back pain, but generally only if the scoliosis is quite severe.
♦ Osteoporosis. Compression fractures of your spine’s vertebrae can occur if your bones become porous and brittle