Back pain is a very common complaint among patients of all ages, almost every person will get back pain at some point of his life. The most common cause of back pain is muscle strain and is nothing to worry about, but sometimes back pain can be caused by a very serious condition.
Two categories of pain are described. The first category is mechanical pain - pain that increases with movement, breathing and activity. The second is inflammatory pain which decreases with activity and movement.
Mechanical pain is the most common type of pain, and the causes of this type include:
o Lumbar strain:
Aching pain localized to the lower back caused by mechanical injury to the ligaments, tendons, or muscles that results from overstretching one or more of these structures. Lumbar strain is considered the most common cause of back pain. Tissues are overstretched usually by improper use, overuse or trauma. The most common age for a person to get a lumbar strait is 40s, but it can happen at any age. The severity of the pain may range from mild discomfort to severe pain and can interfere with daily activities. Your doctor will first rule out neurological conditions, and then may order x-ray to rule out abnormalities. If you have any symptoms other than pain (such as leg weakness) then lumbar strain is unlikely and your doctor will be seeking another diagnosis. The treatment of lumbar strain is resting your back and pain relieve medications, applying local heat to the area may ease the pain to relieve muscle spasm.
o Disc Herniation (lumbar radiculopathy):
Mechanical damage to the disc that is located between vertebrae. The damage occurs because of chronic wear and tear process, acute traumatic injury, or both. Constant damage will eventually result in protrusion of the disc and pressing on the nerve root passing nearby. This causes pain pattern recognized as "sciatica" pain that spreads from the low back down the leg. The pain increases with movements also may increase with coughing.
In more advanced stages sciatica can be accompanied by other symptoms such as urine incontinence of the bladder and weakness of legs this requires urgent surgical treatment.
Your doctor will diagnose Disc herniation based on pain pattern. Your doctor may order additional tests such as MRI and nerve testing (EMG) to confirm diagnosis.
Treatment of disc herniation depends on the extent of the injury and ranges from medical management to surgery.
o Spinal stenosis:
Bony overgrowths from vertebrae results in narrowing of the spinal canal and causes back pain that increases by certain activities such as walking, breathing and coughing.
o Bone metastasis from cancer:
The most common cancer that may cause bone metastases is lung cancer followed by kidney cancer. Some symptoms point to malignancy such as loss of appetite, weight loss, cough, night sweats, shortness of breath and a mass on chest x-Ray.
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