Wednesday, July 10, 2024
HomeFactsWhat Does Back Pain Mean

What Does Back Pain Mean

Talk About Your Physical Functioning Or Lack Of

What Does Burning Back Pain Mean?

Pain is more than a set of unpleasant sensations. It has the power to disrupt daily activities and lifelong dreams. Back pain can impair your ability to fully participate in both work and play, and even to do very basic things such as coughing and sneezing.

That said, your expectations and attitudes may play a determining role as to how much disability you experience when you have back pain. The ICSI, a group that provides guidance to healthcare providers treating back pain, asserts that giving up on yourself or your treatment may perpetuate the pain. In this case. giving up means disengaging from self-care activities. The ICSI says social support and spirituality very much factor into the healing equation.

Another thing that affects your ability to function during the time you deal with back pain is your own perception or appraisal of yourself as able to perform actions and tasks this is called self-efficacy. A study published in the European Journal of Pain found that back patients with strong self-efficacy had less disability.

During your physical exam, the healthcare provider will likely ask questions about your functioning and how it has changed since the pain started. She may also try to determine the level of pain you experience while at rest and during activities.

What Is Acute Mechanical Back Pain

Acute mechanical back pain is a common medical problem. Acute pain is pain that has been present in your back for less than four to six weeks. Mechanical means that the source of the pain may be in your spinal joints, discs, vertebrae, or soft tissues. Acute mechanical back pain may also be called acute low back pain, lumbago, idiopathic low back pain, lumbosacral strain or sprain, or lumbar syndrome.

Extension Dominant Back Pain

Extension Dominant pain is often described in terms of the joints at the back of the spine called the zygapophyseal joints . Again, this is often part of the problem, but not always. Extension Dominant pain has a tendency to follow an identifiable pattern:


  • Pain after standing for long periods
  • Temporary relief from sitting or bending
  • Range of motion is typically stable and does not change in short periods of time.
  • The back may be stiff, but it is always stiff in the same way
  • Pain after high impact activities
  • Usually includes localized spinal pain
  • May include leg pain, tingling, or even numbness in severe cases

Care for Extension Dominant pain is guided by finding ways to reduce pressure on the spine in extension. People who suffer this type of pain often stand with their low backs arched. Specific abdominal stabilizing exercises and hip mobility stretches can be effective. Intermittently using flexed postures to relieve pain is also helpful. Pain relieving treatment techniques such as acupuncture or manual therapy may also play a temporary role.

Longer term care focuses on spinal/core strength and stability with good hip mobility. Once your pain is under control, the treatment program can be more aggressive. It will be aimed at building muscle around the spine while gaining length in shortened hip muscles.

Also Check: How To Heal From Lower Back Pain

What Exactly Is The Lower Back Anyway

Your lower back is known as the lumbar region of the spine. It has a lot of heavy lifting to do: The lumbar spine carries the weight of your entire upper body, plus biomechanical stresses that occur with movement.

The lumbar spine has five vertebraebackbones. Each vertebra has a large disc cushiony gel wrapped in a tough membrane on its front side that acts as a shock absorber. Each vertebra also has two cartilage-lined facet joints on its back side. Working together, discs and facet joints allow the spine to safely bend and twist.

Your lower back also includes ligaments, tendons, and muscles. Ligaments are strong bands that hold the vertebrae and discs together. Tendons attach muscles to the vertebrae. These structures help limit excessive movement that could harm the spinal cord.

Howto Find Relief If The Pain Is Spinal Stenosis

Left Side Low Back Pain  What Does It Mean?

If you do have spinalstenosis, there are several treatments:

  • Try physical therapy.Stretching and strengthening can help support your back, improve your balance and ease the pressure on your nerves.
  • Ask your doctor about medications. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories and muscle relaxers may help. Some patients also find success with anti-seizure drugs such as Neurontin also used for neuropathy.
  • Consider steroid injections. Corticosteroids can reduce the inflammation and irritation that cause symptoms. Theyre usually not a first resort because they can weaken bones and tissue over time.
  • Know that surgery is an option. When more conservative treatments do not work, certain procedures can reduce symptoms.
  • Don’t Miss: How To Sit When You Have Back Pain

    When Is Lower Back Pain An Emergency

    Most episodes of lower back pain eventually resolve on their own, but there are times when you should . Some of these situations include:

    • Patient is a child

    • Pain is severe, constant, suddenly or progressively worsens, and/or doesnt go away

    • Pain interrupts sleep

    While some situations may warrant immediate intervention, most cases are not urgent and can be scheduled at a time convenient for the patient.

    What Are The Causes Of Lower Back Pain

    The vast majority of patients experience back pain because of mechanical reasons. They strain a muscle from heavy lifting or twisting, suffer a sudden jolt in a car accident, experience stress on spinal bones and tissues resulting in a , or suffer from osteoarthritis, a potentially painful degeneration of one or more spinal joints. Common causes for low back pain are:

    • mechanical or functional injury
    • inflammation
    • active infection
    • neoplasms
    • referred pain

    To choose the safest and most effective therapy, doctors need to consider the full spectrum of possible underlying issues, such as inflammatory conditions, fracture, infection, as well as some serious conditions unrelated to the back that radiate pain to the back.

    Also Check: How To Sooth Lower Back Pain

    What Is The Outlook For People With Back Pain

    The prognosis for complete recovery is excellent. Most people with acute mechanical back pain respond very rapidly to treatment. About 90% of people with acute low back pain are symptom-free in one to two weeks. Many of the remaining estimated 10% recover within three months.

    Recurrences of back pain are common. Continuing your home exercise program may help reduce your risk of another episode.

    Referred Pain To And From The Lumbar Spine

    Low back pain- The most common causes of lower back pain

    Pain in the area of the lumbar spine may be due to important problems that are actually unrelated to the back. Referred pain occurs when a problem in one place in the body causes pain in another place. The pain travels down a nerve.. Sources of referred pain to the low back may include abdominal aneurysm , tubal pregnancy, kidney stones, pancreatitis, and colon cancer. Clues to these maladies include pain that waxes and wanes over a short period, with frequent peaks of intense pain, weight loss, abnormalities found during abdominal exam, and trace amounts of blood in the urine. On the other hand, pain can be referred from the low back and be felt in another location, as is often the case with . For example, it is not rare for a patient with a slipped disc in the lower back to have pain in the back of the thigh, or in the calf or even the foot, and not have any low back pain. This situation requires a doctor to sort out the type of pain and to do the examination required to show that the pain is actually coming from the spine .

    Read Also: What Is The Best Bed For A Bad Lower Back

    How Can I Manage My Symptoms

    • Apply ice for 15 to 20 minutes every hour, or as directed. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel before you apply it to your skin. Ice decreases pain and helps prevent tissue damage.
    • Apply heat for 20 to 30 minutes every 2 hours, or as directed. Heat helps decrease pain and muscle spasms.
    • Use massage to loosen tense muscles. Massage may relieve back pain caused by tight muscles. Regular massages may help prevent this kind of back pain.
    • Ask about acupuncture for pain relief. Back pain is sometimes relieved with acupuncture. Talk to your healthcare provider before you get this treatment to make sure it is safe for you.

    What Structures Make Up The Back

    The back is an intricate structure of bones, muscles, and other tissues that form the back, or posterior part of the bodys trunk, from the neck to the pelvis. At the center is the spinal column, which not only supports the upper bodys weight but houses and protects the spinal cord the delicate nervous system structure that carries signals that control the bodys movements and convey its sensations. Stacked on top of one another are about 30 bones the vertebrae that form the spinal column, also known as the spine. Each of these bones contains a roundish hole that, when stacked in line with all the others, creates a channel that surrounds the spinal cord. The spinal cord descends from the base of the brain and extends to just below the rib cage.1

    Starting at the top, the spine has four vertebral regions:

    • Seven cervical or neck vertebrae
    • Twelve thoracic or upper back vertebrae
    • Five lumbar vertebrae , known as the lower back
    • The sacrum and coccyx, a group of bones fused together at the base of the spine.

    You May Like: How To Handle Back Pain

    Muscle Deconditioning And Poor Posture

    People can condition their muscles over time to be stronger or more enduring through exercises and weight training.

    The reverse is also true. Humans may decondition their muscles over time by not using them correctly.

    In some muscles, including back muscles, deconditioning is as easy as sitting at a desk with incorrect posture for too long. A person may do this while at work.

    Slouching in a chair over a desk may cause a loss of strength in the muscles. Over time, the weakening of muscles may lead to pain in the area as they experience strains or irritation.

    When a person slouches, pressure from gravity and the body itself pushes on the spine, neck, discs, and ligaments. Over time, this pressure can lead to pain and other complications.

    It is possible to condition the muscles to be stronger and more durable in most cases. This process starts with correcting the posture while sitting, and taking regular breaks from the desk to move around and stretch.

    Exercises may also improve strength in the back, and using a standing desk can help, too.

    Conditioning the muscle requires patience, however, and anyone with chronic upper back pain from weak muscles might benefit from seeing a physical therapist to find an exercise routine for their specific needs.

    What Causes Lower Back Pain

    Left Side Low Back Pain  What Does It Mean?

    Many injuries, conditions and diseases can cause lower back pain. They include:

    • Strains and sprains: Back strains and sprains are the most common cause of back pain. You can injure muscles, tendons or ligaments by lifting something too heavy or not lifting safely. Some people strain their back by sneezing, coughing, twisting or bending over.
    • Fractures: The bones in the spine can break during an accident, like a car crash or a fall. Certain conditions increase the risk of fractures.
    • Disk problems: Disks cushion the vertebrae . Disks can bulge from their position in the spine and press on a nerve. They can also tear . With age, disks can get flatter and offer less protection .
    • Structural problems: A condition called spinal stenosis happens when the spinal column is too narrow for the spinal cord. Something pinching the spinal cord can cause severe sciatic nerve pain and lower back pain. Scoliosis can lead to pain, stiffness and difficulty moving.
    • Arthritis: Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis to cause lower back pain. Ankylosing spondylitis causes lower back pain, inflammation and stiffness in the spine.
    • Disease:Spine tumors, infections and several types of cancer can cause back pain. Other conditions can cause back pain, too. These include kidney stones and abdominal aortic aneurysm.
    • Spondylolisthesis: This condition causes the vertebrae in the spine to slip out of place. Spondylolisthesis leads to low back pain and often leg pain as well.

    Also Check: What Helps Lower Back Arthritis

    What Are Some Common Lower Back Pain Causes

    The causes of lower back pain are sometimes viewed as being mechanical, organic or idiopathic. Sometimes spinal conditions are congenital or acquired meaning the disorder develops later in life.

    • Mechanical lower back pain is often triggered by spinal movement and involves spinal structures, such as the facet joints, intervertebral discs, vertebral bodies , ligaments, muscles or soft tissues.

    • Organic lower back pain is attributed to disease, such as spinal cancer.

    • Idiopathic refers to an unknown cause.

    These are some of the things your doctor might look for or rule out when you schedule a visit for back pain.

    The common symptoms of lower back pain.

    Sprains and strains. Ligament sprains and muscle or tendon strains are the most common causes of lower back pain. Theyre often related to overuse.

    Degenerative disc disease. While the name sounds worrisome, it just means you have a damaged disc causing pain. Over time, discs become thinner and flatter due to wear and tear. That leaves them less able to cushion the vertebrae and more likely to tear .

    . The protective covering on intervertebral discs can tear over time. When this happens, the soft inner disc tissue may push through the outer layer. A disc that bulges or slips out of place is known as a herniated disc, bulging disc, or slipped disc. The herniation may press on nerve roots, leading to symptoms such as pain, tingling, numbness or weakness in the area that the nerve serves

    Seeking And Acknowledging The Spiritual Meaning Of Lower Back Pain Can Set You On A Course For Recovery

    Lower back pain can be debilitating. When this part of your body is in crisis, it creates a sense of desperation. Along with physical issues, many people only find relief when they tend to the emotional and spiritual meaning of lower back pain.

    The lower back, including the lumbar spine and sacrum, is a storehouse for emotion. Unless you are exploring the deeper emotional and psychological roots of back pain, you are missing an opportunity to heal.

    In the maze of treatments for chronic back pain, the spiritual meaning of lower back pain is one that is often overlooked. Jeana Naluai, Director of Hoâomana Spa on the island of Maui and kumu of indigenous Hawaiian wisdom and practices, explains that back pain is the most common complaint from people who, âhaving tried everything else,â show up on her table desperate for relief.

    Also Check: What To Take For Uti Back Pain

    How To Manage Pain

    A person who experiences back pain during labor can ask for pain medication. People who want limited or no medication may find relief from adopting different positions that support their back.

    Doctors generally suggest analgesics, which reduce pain without affecting movement or muscle control, or anesthetics, which block pain and touch sensations.

    The medical community does not consider certain medications, including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen, to be safe during pregnancy. A person should always consult their doctor before taking any medication when pregnant.

    In addition to medication, a person may wish to try using natural methods to manage their pain.

    Doctors at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center suggest the following methods to ease pain during labor:

    • taking a warm shower or bath
    • trying different positions, such as sitting on a birthing ball or squatting
    • walking during labor

    Lower Back Pain Causes: 8 Reasons For Sudden & Chronic Pain

    What Does It Mean if My Lower Back Pain is in My Buttocks?

    Sometimes, you know exactly why your back is hurting. Maybe you lifted something awkwardly and felt the pain right away. Or maybe your doctor has been warning you for years that your bad posture would lead to lower back pain.

    But other times, the source of back pain can feel like a mystery.

    “Your lumbar spine, located in your lower back, plays a crucial role in supporting the weight of your upper body. It’s also responsible for everyday movements, such as bending, twisting and coordinating the muscles in your hips, pelvis legs and feet,” says Dr. Kenneth Palmer, orthopedic surgeon specializing in spine surgery at Houston Methodist. “Due to heavy use, the bones, muscles, ligaments, disks and nerves found in your lumbar spine are quite susceptible to both injury and wear and tear over time causing pain in the lower back.”

    Lower back pain symptoms include:

    • Dull ache in your hips and/or pelvis
    • Muscle spasms or tightness
    • Sharp, tingling pain that starts in your lower back and travels down one leg
    • Pain that worsens with sitting and quickly improves while walking
    • Pain that is noticeably worse in the morning

    “Typically, a person experiences some combination of these symptoms, which can develop suddenly or over time. In some cases, lower back pain can feel like it comes and goes flaring up now and then, but generally getting progressively worse over time,” explains Dr. Palmer.

    Speaking of the various causes of lower back pain…

    Read Also: Do Hot Tubs Help Back Pain

    Which Lifestyle Factors Contribute To Lower Back Pain

    There are three major lifestyle factors that may affect your chances of developing lower back pain:

    • Multiple studies have established a link between smoking and lower back pain. Smoking raises inflammation inside the body and hinders the body from healing itself.
    • Obesity is also associated with several types of chronic pain, including lower back pain. In people with high body mass index , the stress on the spine increases, contributing to even more wear and tear.
    • Your level of physical activity can also play a role in your lower back health. While a sedentary lifestyle could increase your risk of developing lower back pain, so can excessive or strenuous physical activity. Check with your doctor if you are unsure about your ideal level of physical activity.


    Most Popular