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Overview of Back Problems

Back pain is a common condition that affects 8 out of 10 people at some point in their lives. Whether from injuries, bad posture, or aging, back problems are widely experienced by people on a regular basis. As such, there is a breadth of factors that can cause backache and severe back pain in everyday life, and, in some cases, it can last for long periods of time (chronic back pain). Accidents, injuries, muscular and nerve issues, genetics, the aging process, and stress are only some of the causes of back problems and their related symptoms.

Symptoms of a Backache

Some of the common symptoms of back problems include:

  • Muscle aches: This includes soreness around the shoulders, hips, or rib cage area. Muscle aches are often caused by strenuous activity from sports or other physically-demanding activities. It can also occur from inactivity by sitting too long in the same position or from poor posture.
  • Sharp pain: A sudden, sharp or stabbing pain can sometimes occur around the neck, mid-back or lower back as well as form muscle spasms. 
  • Radiating pain: This can be identified by pain that starts in one location and spreads to other areas upon movement or getting the body in certain positions. Leg pain can sometimes be caused by problems with irritation of the nerves in the low back.
  • Difficulty with standing, sitting, or walking: If you’re having difficulty sitting, standing or walking for periods of time or experiencing a strain on the lower back when sitting, it may be a sign of a more concerning back issue.
  • Chronic pain: Moderate or worse neck or back pain that lasts for more than 3 months can be considered chronic. These need to be addressed by a physician in order to receive a proper diagnosis and treatment plan that is aimed to relieve and hopefully prevent the issue from worsening.

Common Conditions of Back Problems

Here are some common musculoskeletal conditions that can cause back pain. 

  • Injury
  • Arthritis (Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis)
  • Bone spurs
  • Bulging disc
  • Herniated discs
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Facet syndrome
  • Spondylosis
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Foraminal stenosis
  • Compression Fracture
  • Ankylosing spondylitis
  • Failed Back Surgery

Diagnosing Back Problems

Most forms of back pain tend to disappear after a few days. These include a sore back, back strain, or backache. Making adjustments in posture, exercise routine, and activities are usually the best ways to remedy most back problems and eventually overcome them.

Moderate or severe back pain could indicate larger underlying issues that should be evaluated by a physician. In most cases, the physician will order an imaging test such as an MRI, CT scan, or X-ray. This is done to assist the physician in determining the cause of the back pain. Depending on the results, treatment is then recommended. The treatment could range from using heating and cooling packs on the affected area, physical therapy, chiropractic care, massage therapy, acupuncture, or in more severe cases, spinal injections or surgery. The only way to know for sure is to speak with a physician and receive a further detailed evaluation to get more definitive answers and solutions for your ongoing back pain problems.