The back is a complex system of muscles, bones (vertebrae), tendons, discs,and ligaments. It provides balance, mobility and support for the entire body. It also protects the spinal cord and nerves. Because of the support it provides the body, dealing with back pain can be a difficult journey.
What causes back pain?
Besides as specific pain causing injury, daily lifting and normal wear over time makes the back susceptible to injury. Genetics can also factor into deterioration of the spine.
Back pain may also occur due to fractures (including those from osteoporosis), developmental disorders, tumors, or infectious and inflammatory disorders.
Your doctor may diagnose your back pain as either acute or chronic.
Acute Back Pain
Acute back pain is often sharp and severe. It tends to come on suddenly. It also may improve over time and with the use of short-term treatments like exercise, medication, physical therapy or rest.
Many sudden attacks of acute back pain are the result of straining and overstretching muscles or ligaments. Usually, back pain resulting from strain or sprain requires treatment over a few weeks. The pain is often then resolved (provided there are no other underlying medical conditions to complicate the process).
Chronic Back Pain
Chronic back pain lasts at least 12 weeks. It is an aching, dull, deep or burning pain. Chronic pain usually occurs over time as the body ages and from routine wear and tear.
Chronic back pain may be a mechanical pain. This means that a specific part of the spine, including a disc, ligament, or a joint is damaged. Mechanical pain also include spondylolisthesis, degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, facet joint degeneration and herniated discs.
What are some symptoms indicating my back pain could benefit from treatment?
Please reach out to us if your back pain results from physical trauma to the spine. Other concerning symptoms include numbness, having difficulty moving, and bladder control loss or impairment.
How will my MMG Provider manage my back pain?
Acute back pain requiring treatment often consists of epidural steroid injections and/ or physical therapy. Your physician may offer surgery if these methods fail. Chronic back pain often requires more invasive treatment, depending on the problem being addressed.
To design your treatment plan, your physician may also order:
- MRI or CT scans
- Bone scans
Does back pain always lead to surgery?
Few patients undergo surgery for back pain. Surgery is usually for pain from structural problems. For example, this may include spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spine) or a herniated disk that doesn’t respond to therapy.