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The Most Common Causes of Back Pain

According to statistics, eight out of 10 Americans are expected to experience some form of back pain during their lives. Despite advancements in medical technology, back pain is still among the most prevalent conditions in the United States.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common types of back pain.

Radicular Pain

Radicular pain is a common form of back pain. Also referred to as radiculopathy, it’s caused by the compression of the spinal nerve roots. Alternatively, the pain may also occur due to nerve inflammation, such as in the case of a herniated disc or sciatica.

couple relieving back pain by stretching

Radicular nerve pain is a type of searing pain that originates from the spine and radiates to the limbs. The treatment involves relieving the pressure being exerted on the nerve root, usually via surgery. For milder conditions, nonsurgical methods may be applied for effective pain relief.

Muscle Strains and Ligament Sprains

Strains and sprains are the most common forms of back pain. These are musculoskeletal injuries that may occur due to overexertion, irritation, or trauma. More specifically, muscle strains and ligament sprains in the back may occur due to injury of the latissimus dorsi (lats), rhomboid, trapezius, or erector spinae muscles.

Musculoskeletal injuries result in persistent back pain that may worsen with movement. Individuals experiencing this type of pain are more likely to encounter the symptoms when they turn around or bend, as opposed to when resting or maintaining a stationary posture. However, they may still experience a dull ache even when they’re not moving.

Back injuries like these can be treated via the RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) method, medication, or physiotherapy. The symptoms usually last up to six weeks, although they may subside much sooner depending on the extent of the pain and injury.

a woman stretching her back

Chronic Pain Disorders

Finally, chronic pain disorders also contribute to back pain. These medical conditions are often tricky to diagnose because there’s no visible organic cause of the pain. As a result, a chronic back pain disorder can go undiagnosed or may be misdiagnosed. Chronic back pain can migrate to other body parts and isn’t confined to typical anatomical boundaries. The intensity may vary, and the pain may worsen with deteriorating mental health.

A person with a chronic back pain disorder is likely to feel the same extent of pain as one who’s sustained an injury. The difference is, in the case of the former, there’s no apparent cause of pain, making it a complex condition. This is also why the usual pain-relieving techniques aren’t always effective for chronic back pain. Instead, patients and physicians typically experiment with multiple strategies to find the best treatment for effective pain management. This may include a combination of physiotherapy, medication, and occupational therapy.

Houston Physicians’ Hospital has a team of highly specialized orthopedic spine specialists and neurosurgeons at our Spine Solutions Center who perform various procedures to help patients find relief from back pain. Visit our website to find a doctor who’s right for you.

We also provide back and neck pain treatments, physical therapy, spine solutions, general surgery, and arthritis treatments.