Back pain is one of most common reason that people see a doctor or miss work. Most people have back pain at least once. For most people, back pain is a short-term annoyance. For others, back pain can be a disabling, long-term condition.
It is common because your back is a complex system of more than 30 bones held together with muscles, tendons and ligaments, and is constantly under tension. Your back supports your entire body, and experiences a lot of wear and tear over time.
Back pain can come on suddenly and last less than six weeks (acute), which may be caused by a fall or heavy lifting. Back pain that lasts more than three months (chronic) is less common than acute pain.
Back pain often develops without a specific cause that your doctor can identify with a test or imaging study. Conditions commonly linked to back pain include:
Muscle or ligament strain
Repeated heavy lifting or a sudden awkward movement may strain back muscles and spinal ligaments. If you’re in poor physical condition, constant strain on your back may cause painful muscle spasms.
Bulging or ruptured disks
Disks act as cushions between the bones (vertebrae) in your spine. The soft material inside a disk can bulge or rupture and press on a nerve. However, you can have a bulging or ruptured disk without back pain. Disk disease often is found incidentally when you undergo spine X-rays for some other reason.
Osteoarthritis can affect the lower back. In some cases, arthritis in the spine can lead to a narrowing of the space around the spinal cord, which is a condition called spinal stenosis.
Back pain can occur if your spine curves abnormally. Scoliosis, which is a condition in which your spine curves to the side, also may lead to back pain, but generally only if the scoliosis is severe.
Your spine’s vertebrae can develop compression fractures if your bones become porous and brittle.
Because back pain is so common, numerous products promise to prevent or relieve your back pain. But there’s no definitive evidence that special shoes, shoe inserts, back supports, specially designed furniture or stress management programs can help. In addition, there doesn’t appear to be one type of mattress that’s best for people with back pain. It’s probably a matter of what feels most comfortable to you.
Did you have back surgery elsewhere but continue to experience chronic pain? Our neurosurgical team specializes in revision surgery, which is a surgery performed to correct the problems of an earlier spine surgery. This could include: