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Back Pain: Types, Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

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Back Pain Types, Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

What is Back Pain?

Back pain, simply put, is any pain you might feel in your back, whether it is in the lower or upper part. There are many types of back pain, as well as causes. And a pain in any specific part of your back may be a symptom of another underlying cause. In this article, the different types of back pain and their causes will be discussed, along with symptoms to diagnose them, and finally, the treatment to be relieved of the condition.

Different  Causes and Types of Back Pain

As there are many different parts of your back, there are also different types of back pain that can be felt in any of these areas. The type of back pain can also be indicative of what is causing the pain, rather than where it is felt. These are the different types of back pain, (which can also be considered as the cause of the back pain) that can be felt by a person:

  • Upper Back Pain- This is perhaps one of the most common types of back pain, and is indicative of a sedentary lifestyle. This type of pain can be felt anywhere from the bottom of your rib cage all the way up to the back of your neck.
  • Lower Back Strain - another one of the more common types of back pain, and can indicate a problem in any of the muscles and ligaments that hold your vertebra or spinal column.
  • Spondylolisthesis – is also a type of back pain that can be felt in the lower back. This condition is caused when the vertebra of the lower spine slips out of position, causing pain.
  • Spinal Stenosis - a type of back pain that gets more prominent as one ages, and is caused by the narrowing of spaces in your spinal column. 
  • Cauda Equina Syndrome - one of the more rare types of back pain. This condition is caused by the compression of the nerves at the base of the spinal cord.
  • Piriformis Syndrome - just like the Cauda Equina Syndrome, this is one of the rarer types of back pain around. This condition is caused by the irritation or compression of the sciatic nerve by the piriformis muscle, hence its name.

Other times, back pain is caused by one or more factors. Here are the other common causes of back pain:

  1. Strain – Strain is the most common causes of back pain, and the strain can be in any part of your back, such as: in the muscles of the back, and in the ligaments and other soft tissues of your back. Lifting anything heavy and also doing it improperly can cause this strain on your back.
  2. Vertebra Problem – If you are feeling back pain that is not caused by strain, then perhaps it is a problem caused by one of the disks in your spinal cord or vertebra. Your vertebra can either be ruptured or is bulging. In the case of a bulging vertebra, then it can also indicate you have sciatica, which can be felt as a sharp and shooting pain that travels through your buttock onto your leg.
  3. Improper posture- improper posture can also be a leading cause of back pain, as something as simple as your posture, when done repeatedly every day, will definitely cause problems in your back.

Back pain can occur for many different reasons. Pain in the lower back can develop because of:

  • Problems with the nerves and the spinal cord
  • Problems with the lower back muscles or with the ligaments that support the vertebrae and discs
  • Problems with the lumbar spine or the discs
  • Problems in the skin over-laying the lumbar area of the back
  • Problems with the organs inside the abdomen and pelvis
Upper back pain can occur as a result of problems with the aorta, inflammation of the spine or due to chest tumors. 

Some people with back pain also have related symptoms in other parts of their body such as buttock pain, muscle cramps or hip pain.  

Back pain can be classified by where it is located in the body: neck pain, middle or lower back pain and tailbone pain. It can also be classified by how long it lasts:

  • Acute Pain: This lasts up to 12 weeks
  • Subacute: This is the last half of the acute phase. It lasts from 6 to 12 weeks.
  • Chronic: If pain lasts longer than 12 weeks, it is considered chronic

There are many different types of pain. It can come on suddenly and be sharp and severe, or it can be a dull ache. Pain sometimes only occurs with movement, or when you cough or sneeze. A feeling of numbness or tingling can also become painful.

Symptoms of Back Pain

As mentioned before in this article, back pain in itself is a symptom, but it can also manifest itself through other symptoms, such as:

  • Pain that is near your back – Such as in the legs, below the knees, in your buttocks, and even in your neck.
  • Numbness and Weakness around these same parts
  • Difficulty in the excretory systems of the body- such as in urinating or bowel movement
  • Swelling in your Back
  • Weight Loss
  • Fever

What are the Common Procedures Used to Treat Back Pain?

When you yourself feel pain in your back, you will always immediately think of how to treat your condition, as having back pain will, if not impair you, make it difficult for you to perform everyday tasks that you are used to doing. Here are some of the most common treatments used in the case of back pain:

  1. Medication/ Painkillers- Perhaps the most common treatment or preliminary treatment for all the types of back pains listed above. The painkiller can range from NSAIDs such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or naproxen sodium; to much more serious medications such as corticosteroid injections. 
  2. Physical Therapy- effective as both treatment and aftercare for someone feeling back pain, physical therapy can range anywhere from electrical stimulation, reflexology massage, or application of heat and/or cold to the affected area.


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