Most references to back pain focus on lower back pain in the lumbar spinal region. However, back pain causes in no particular order are:
- Accidents or injuries leaving muscle pain
Osteoarthritis with deteriorating cartilage
Osteoporosis with bone loss / fracture
Major conditions like cancer
Muscle, ligament and tendon problems are generally at the root of the pain problems along with some weakness in the lower back. Other body parts in the region can also be associated like bones and small joints.
When no specific cause is apparent, the term NSLBP (nonspecific low back pain) is used. Any number of reasons for this pain can include degenerative disk disease, psychological issues, systemic disease, facet syndrome (similar to pinched nerves symptoms), herniated disk, spondylolisthesis or the forward displacement of one of the lower lumbar vertebrae over the vertebra below it or on the sacrum. Other factors could be spinal stenosis or constriction or spondyloarthropathy (disease affecting spinal joints).
DEGENERATIVE DISK DISEASE The degeneration of vertebral disks is a natural part of the aging process. What often happens though, is that when the narrowing of the disk space combines with the nociceptors, sensory receptors that respond to pain, in the outer annulus (in the disk space outside the nucleus) or dorsal root ganglion (spinal nerves) that become heightened, the result can be pain, although not always. Sometimes pain can be felt by some people, and other times not.
For example a minor accident like missing a step and landing a little harder than usual on your feet might cause back pain. And certain activities can aggravate degenerative disks, like yard work or house cleaning movements. But overall, pain associated with degenerative disk disease generally heals within a few days at most. Preventative measures like strengthening muscle groups to lessen future traumas are usually recommended along with an analgesic or medication that helps relieve pain. Only in some cases are epidurals or injections, blocks or surgery needed.
PSYCHOLOGICAL ISSUES – If acute back pain turns into chronic stages, factors of depression, fear and anxiety could increase discomfort and pain. And the longer the chronic pain persists, the more these factors tend to play a role, an increased role over time. So treatment strategies may need to include learning coping skills and alternative lifestyle enhancements to deal with the psychological factors present.
SYSTEMIC DISEASE This disease is the cause for up to 10% of back pain and largely among the elderly. Causes could be cancer-related or related to reduced bone mass or simply the aging process. Increasing or decreasing activities as well as switching positions all may have no affect on pain relief. Alternative therapies may be in need.
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