What is Back Pain?
Anatomy of the back
The back and the spine are some of the most complex structures in the entire body, composed of vertebral discs, tendons, ligaments, muscles, and bone. You can have injuries or mechanical issues in any part of the intricate structure of the spine, which can cause pain. The spine is classified by four regions:
- Cervical – Neck, made up of seven vertebrae
- Thoracic – Upper back,made up of 12 vertebrae
- Lumbar -Lower back,made up of five vertebrae
- Sacral region – Located below the low back and made up of 5 vertebrae
Statistics about back pain
Back pain is another one of the most commonly cited locations of pain in the human body. It is estimated that about 80% of adults in the United States will experience some sort of back pain over the course of their lives.
Back pain is the single leading cause of disability world-wide, and is one of the most common reasons that people miss work and file work-related disabilities claims.
Most Common Types of Back Pain
The back is one of the most commonly injured regions of the body and injury can result in anything from overuse or poor posture, to sitting or standing in a way that isn’t healthy for your spine.
The most commonly cited injured region of the back is low back pain, but back pain can occur in any region of the back. Pulled muscles, , sprained ligaments, strained tendons, or slip discs in your spine can all lead to pain.
Acute vs. Chronic Back Pain
Depending on the nature of your injury and how long it has lasted, you could either have acute or chronic back pain. If symptoms last less than three months, it is an acute injury. Any symptoms of back pain that last longer three months can be identified as chronic pain. The range of spine pain can span from mild to severe, and can either be intermittent or constant pain. Back pain can be a severe health condition that should be taken seriously. It can dramatically impact the quality of life that you have, how you are able to move, what you are able to do, and the dependence or independence that you have in your life. Severe or debilitating back pain can also cause psychological issues like depression.
If you are suffering from low back pain, see a doctor that specializes in back pain for an accurate diagnose and explore treatment options.
Between each of the vertebrae in your spine are vertebral discs. These discs provide additional support and shock absorption for the spine. Each disc is composed of an inner layer ( nucleus) and an outer fibrous layer (annulus fibrosis). A disc can herniate or rupture when the inner layer of the disc breaks through a weakened portion of the outer layer. Rupturing can irritate nearby nerves in the spine which can cause numbness, pain, or weakness in either your lower or upper extremities. Disc herniation can occur in any region of the spine, but it is most commonly suffered in the lumbar region.
What is Spinal Stenosis?
If you are suffering from back pain that radiates throughout your legs or worsens when spending long periods of time standing, you may be suffering from a condition known as spinal stenosis.
This condition can occur at any age, but is most common in anyone who is 50 years of age and older. This condition is characterized by the narrowing of the spinal canal, which compresses the spine, and has a direct impact on nerves that are associated with the location of the compressed area. The spinal column is composed of vertebra, which are the 26 building blocks that make up the spine. These bones not only provide structure and support for the body, but they also provide protection for your spine, which is the central nervous system of the body. Even with the reinforced protection that the vertebra provide for the spine, the spine is still vulnerable to compression which can cause inflammation, pain, and issues with the nerves.
The areas that are most commonly susceptible to spinal compression include
- The spinal canal hollow area in the middle of the spine
- Areas on the spine where peripheral nerves stem off of the spinal cord
- Spaces in between each vertebrae
When you experience compression in any one of these areas along the spinal cord, it can lead to symptoms that include
- A reduction in the mobility of your lower extremities
- General discomfort
- And chronic pain
A patient can have spinal stenosis but exhibit none of the most common symptoms. In more typical cases of spinal stenosis, there are common symptoms that tend to emerge which may include
- Lower back pain, which can be caused by spinal stenosis of the lumbar region of the spine
- Neck pain, which can be connected to stenosis in the cervical part of the spine
- Pain in your arms and legs
- Limited mobility or range of motion around your joints
- Numbing sensations in different areas of the body
- Cramping of the muscles
- Foot pain or issues
- Pain radiating down your legs
- Pain while standing
Spinal stenosis can severely inhibit the normal daily functions of the patient, and significantly inhibit activities that the patient could formerly perform, totally pain free. They may begin to have pain while standing or walking for extended periods of time. Those painful experiences could make daily activity difficult.
What is Hip Bursitis?
Symptoms of Hip Bursitis
Hip bursitis is characterized by pain on the outside of your hip, and can be exacerbated by walking or running. This is a common hip pain condition caused by the inflammation of the bursa, which is a fluid-filled sac located near the outside of the hips. The purpose of the bursa is to cover and provide protection for the hip joint, muscles, and tendons connected to the hip bone
Types of Hip Bursitis
This type of bursitis occurs when the bursa connected to the iliopsoas tendon becomes aggravated. This type of hip bursitis is most common in young adults and women. This particular type of bursitis can also be identified as snapping-tendon syndrome, because of the snapping sound that is caused when the hip flexes.
This type of bursitis typically develops in individuals who are regularly participating in running, rowing, resistance training, and other track and field events that require repetitive or explosive use of the hips.
Symptoms include the popping of the hips when flexing them, and pain in the pelvic region which can often radiate down to the thighs and knees. To properly diagnose iliopsoas bursitis, your physician will administer the Thomas Test to see if an audible or palpable snap is occurring in the hip.
Trochanteric bursitis often occurs in older adults, and is most commonly caused by either some sort of hip trauma, or by the degenerative effects of aging.
Here are some of the most common causes of trochanteric bursitis
- Starting a new exercise routine that is more vigorous than what you are used to
- Strange patterns in your gait when when walking or running
- Repeated strains of the hip area
- Overuse of the hip
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Differences in the length of your legs
- Lumbar spondylosis
- Total hip replacement
In order to diagnose trochanteric bursitis, your physician will often analyze your gait and how your weight shifts when walking to identify the origin of the pain.
What is Thoracic Pain?
Thoracic back pain, also known as middle or upper back pain is significantly less common than neck pain or pain in the lower back.
We word “thoracic” is another name for “thorax” which commonly refers to the region of the chest. Most often thoracic back pain will have a benign origin, but in some cases thoracic pain can be a symptom or an even greater underlying problem in your health. The purpose of the thoracic spine is to provide structure and support for the back of the chest and rib cage. The thoracic spine has limited mobility in comparison with the cervical spine or the lumbar spine, due to the fact that’s its primary function is to protect the vital organs in the chest.
Even though thoracic spine pain can often be harmless, seek immediate medical attention if you are noticing any of the following symptoms.
- Infection in your recent history
- Having a fever of over 100 degrees Fahrenheit
- Recent use of IV administered drugs, which can increase the chances of getting an infection
- Unexplained weight loss
If you should experience any of the following symptoms that are present with your thoracic back pain, you need to seek emergency medical attention immediately.
- Recent incidents of significant physical trauma that may or may not include getting hit by a car or falling from a high elevation.
- A history of cancer
- Complete or partial loss of bladder or bowel control
- A feeling of weakness or paralysis
Statistics on Upper and Middle Back Pain
It is estimated that between 80-90% of the entire population of the U.S will suffer from back pain. The majority of those people will suffer from lower back pain, since that is more prevalent than upper or middle back pain. Pinning an exact number on how many people suffer from upper and middle back pain can be hard to decipher, because each patient may have a different experience of what their thoracic back pain is characterized by. Some recent studies have estimated that up to 20% of people may suffer from upper or middle back pain at some point in their lives
If you have been suffering from any of these condition or symptoms, please call our office to make an appointment for a free consultation to learn more about MLS laser therapy for pain relief today.