Back Pain

Back | Orthopaedics | Back Pain (Disease)


Back pain or dorsalgia, is a medical condition characterized by a pain felt in the back that can arise from the muscles, nerves, bones, joints or other structures in the spine.

The pain usually lasts for only a week or so but can recur in some people. Rarely, persistent back pain causes long-term disability. Back pain may have a sudden onset or can be a chronic pain; it can be constant or intermittent, stay in one place or radiate to other areas. It may be a dull ache, or a sharp or piercing or burning sensation.

Back pain can be divided anatomically: neck pain, middle back pain, lower back pain or tailbone pain. The pain may radiate into the arms and hands as well as the legs or feet, and may include symptoms other than pain, such as weakness, numbness or tingling.

Causes and Risk factors

Back pain is usually caused by minor damage to the ligaments and muscles in the back. Less commonly, lower back pain may result from an underlying disorder such as a prolapsed intervertebral disc in the spine. Although they are not common causes of back pain, infections can cause pain when they involve the vertebrae: osteomyelitis, cancer.

Medical problems that can cause back pain include the following: mechanical problems (intervertebral disc, spasms, muscle tension, and ruptured discs, which are also called herniated discs), injuries (spine injuries such as sprains and fractures), acquired conditions and diseases (include scoliosis, spondylolisthesis; various forms of arthritis, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and ankylosing spondylitis; pregnancy; kidney stones or infections; endometriosis).

Diagnosis and Treatment

It is important to understand that back pain is a symptom of a medical condition, not a diagnosis itself.

Before a doctor can begin treating back pain, tests are done to diagnose what is causing the patients problem. Unless you are totally immobilized from a back injury, the doctor probably will test your range of motion and nerve function and touch your body to locate the area of discomfort.

Back pain treatment goals are pain relief and restored movement. The basic treatment for relieving back pain from strain or minor injury is rest. An ice pack can be helpful, as can aspirin or another nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) to reduce pain and inflammation. After the inflammation subsides, applying heat can soothe muscles and connective tissue. ...

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