Low back pain is one of the most common problems suffered by patients worldwide. It is responsible for not only countless hours off work and lost quality of life, but also billions of dollars worth diagnostic work-up and medical treatment.
Almost everyone suffers from at least an episode or two of back pain during their life-time. Some of the backaches are acute (short duration), while others are chronic (long duration). It is important to differentiate serious causes from the less-serious causes of back pain.
Three common ways of describing as back pain include:
- Localized (pain located over a specific part of the back)
- Radiating (pain felt from back to other parts of the body, usually one or both legs)
- Referred (pain felt over the back due to disturbances in some other part of the body)
Back Pain Is Not Always Caused By “Back Problems”
It is important to bear in mind that back pain does not necessarily always arise from problems in the vertebral column or spinal structures. Some of the other structures in human body which can give rise to backaches include:
- Urinary bladder
- Retroperitoneal lymph nodes
What Are The Risk Factors For Back Pain?
Some people are more prone to backaches than others. The reasons for this may include:
Non-Modifiable Risk Factors :
- Increased age
- Anthropometric measures of a person
Modifiable Risk Factors:
- Poor Posture
- Workplace Ergonomics
- Heavy manual labor
- Psychosocial Factors
Causes of back-pain
Some specific pain generators that can cause localized back pain are:
- Muscles causing spasm, myofascial syndrome or fibromyalgia
- Injured ligaments from a back sprain
- Facet joints (articulations of vertebral bone) arthritis.
Radiating pain, Also commonly known as Sciatica, is often described as “current like sensation going down a leg”. It usually indicates nerve root irritation or compression occurring as a result of:
- Lumbar Spondylosis, a degenerative condition of the spine that can cause lumbar canal stenosis
- Prolapsed intervertebral disc (or slipped disc)
- Spinal tumors or infections
As there are many different causes of back pain, and some of these can have serious or urgent implications, it is important to always get your doctor to do a full assessment and to properly diagnose and treat back pain.Dr Terence Tan, The Pain Relief Clinic