What Are Different Types of Back Pain

There are several different types of back pain, and some treatments may work for some back pain and not for others. If you suffer from back pain, you’re probably already aware of this, and you may have tried several different approaches to alleviating your back pain. Familiarity with each of the types of back pain and their treatments may help you pinpoint the cause of, and solution for, yours.

Back pain affects everyone differently. Some people may experience immobilizing, debilitating pain with a specific condition or injury, while others with the same condition may not experience any symptoms at all. In some cases, pain comes on suddenly and gradually subsides, flaring up again when the person least expects it.

Pay attention to the patterns and effects of your back pain; since you’re the only person who’s truly familiar with your pain and comfort levels, you can communicate thoroughly about these symptoms with a medical professional and receive the proper type of treatment for your specific needs.

The more common sources of back pain are the muscles that support the spine, the nerves that connect the spinal cord to the rest of the body, the facet joints that connect the vertebrae to each other, and the discs that cushion the areas between the vertebrae and absorb shock and force.

Other anatomical structures, both in the back and elsewhere, can also contribute to back pain. The spine withstands numerous forces throughout the average day, including the sudden forces from twisting or impact and the day-to-day stress that comes from sitting, typing on a keyboard, and other routine activities.

Because all the anatomical structures that support and rely on the spine work together, in a complex anatomical system, it can be challenging for an individual who is experiencing back pain to determine the specific source of that pain. Arthritic facet joints may cause a discomfort that feels similar to the discomfort caused by a herniated disc, simply due to the proximity of these anatomical structures in the spine, and, in some cases, a specific spinal nerve can be affected by more than one irritant.

Your physician can examine your spine and also evaluate your medical history and symptoms to determine the specific cause of your back pain. On occasion, digital diagnostics like x-rays and MRIs can help pinpoint the specific location or cause of back pain.

During this medical examination, your doctor will rely on your description of the intensity and location of your back pain and will also ask about any possibly related symptoms. You don’t need to know the technical terms for the different types of back pain; describing your situation as thoroughly as you can will help the doctor diagnose. If, however, you want a better understanding, there are three main types of back pain. Axial pain, which can also be called mechanical pain, is limited to one specific area of the back and can lead to a number of different types and levels of discomfort or pain.

Axial pain is usually caused by muscle strain, though facet joints and torn discs can also lead to axial pain. Referred pain varies in intensity and is felt in different parts of the body at different times. For example, while degenerative disc disease affects the discs in the lower back, it can lead to pain in the hips and thighs; this is known as referred pain. Finally, radicular pain, which can resemble an electric shock and cause sharp, sudden pain, can be caused by irritation to or compression of the spinal nerves and radiates into the body through the spinal nerves. Understanding the type of pain you’re experiencing can help your medical professional arrive at a treatment plan that will provide you with relief.

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