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What Is Back Pain?

Back pain is a common but debilitating condition or discomfort of the back caused due to abnormal conditions of the spine, discs, nerves and muscles present in the area.

What Are The Conditions Of Back That Cause Back Pain?

The causes of back pain can range from genetic conditions to external causes injuring the bones, muscles or other tissues of the region. The following are the most common conditions that cause back pain:

  • Spine Osteoarthritis: Stiffness in the spinal cord and limitation in the range of motion of the back resulting from wear and tear of cartilage located between the spine joints
  • Sciatica: Compression of the sciatic nerve, caused by a herniated disc or bone spur. It is also caused by injury to the thigh, pelvis, buttocks, by diabetes or due to prolonged sitting
  • Spinal Stenosis: Generally occurring among the aged, it is caused by constriction of the spinal canal due to brittle bones and thickening of spinal tissues
  • Spondylolysis: Stress caused by fracture in one of the vertebrae of the spine affecting the stabilizing process of the spine
  • Spondylolisthesis : Slipping of a weak vertebrae due to fracture, causing instability. It further causes radiating pain and neurological anomalies
  • Osteoporosis: It is a condition of brittle bones, causing fracture of the vertebra resulting in severe pain and debilitating conditions
  • Scoliosis: The condition in which the spine curves and twists in the shape of the letters S or C, caused in childhood due to injury or genetic disorder
  • Some other causes of back pain are: Muscle strain and sprain, Bulging and Ruptured discs,  Ankylosing Spondylitis, Cancer, Infections and Cauda Equina syndrome.

How Can The Causes Of Back Pain Be Diagnosed?

Diagnosis of causes of back pain starts with a detailed analysis of the medical history of the patient as well as physical examination of the local and associated areas of the back such as leg movements, etc.  

Further probing can include the following diagnostic methods:

  • Blood Tests: Used for determining infections or cancer
  • Imaging through Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) or Computed Tomography (CT Scan): Used to detect signs of cancer, infections, fracture or cauda equine syndrome
  • Differential Diagnoses: Health conditions of other parts of the body such as gastrointestinal infections, gall bladder diseases, peptic ulcers, abdominal discomforts, Pelvic inflammations,  Prostatitis, Kidney infections, etc may also be checked before concluding the cause of the back pain

What Are The Treatments To Relieve Back Pain?

Based on diagnostic results of recommended tests, a patient with back pain is treated either by administration of oral medicines, injection of steroids to relax the muscles and joints or through physical therapy to help strengthening of the back muscles.

However, during emergency or extreme cases, surgery of the spine is suggested which may be of the following kinds:

  • Spinal Fusion: Commonly performed to join the bones in the vertebrae
  • Laminectomy: Performed to remove bone or ligament parts floating in the area causing discomfort
  • Foraminotomy : Performed to treat pain caused by nerves compression

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