Chronic Back Pain: What are its Causes and Symptoms?

chronic-back-pain-causes-and-symptoms
Editor's Note: This article has been recently updated with latest information and research studies.
 

Overview of Chronic Back Pain

Chronic back pain is one of the most common health issues all over the world. According to the statistics, around 80% of the populations are likely to suffer from chronic back pain at some point in their lives. And, another statistic shows that around $50 billion is spent by Americans on back pain every single year.

These statistics must have given you the clue on how common this problem really is. The chronic back pain could be very annoying at times. It does not allow the person to be involved in the day to day activities in a normal manner.

The duration of the back pain depends on severity of the back pain. In the case of chronic back pain, it means the back pain that will last for more than 12 weeks. In this article, we will talk about the chronic back pain causes and chronic back pain symptoms.

What are the Causes of Chronic Back Pain?

According to the study, the lower back pain is the leading cause of disability. Now, the question is what causes chronic back pain. Before talking about the causes of chronic back pain, it would be better to know about the structure of the human back.

The structure of human back is very complex. It consists of muscles, ligaments, disks, bones, and tendons. It there is any sort of problem with any of these components, then a person is likely to suffer from the back pain. Due to a complex structure of a human back, there are many people who also suffer from chronic back pain syndrome. Here are some of the common causes of chronic back pain.

1. Strain

The strain is one of the most common causes of back pain. The strain could be anything like a muscle spasm, strained muscles, or strained ligaments. There are some common causes that could lead to a strain, and they are:

  • A person who lifts something improperly could lead him/her to strain.
  • Lifting very heavy objects can also lead to strain.
  • The abrupt or awkward movement of the body can cause strain.

2. Structural problems

The structure of the body must be in a normal form for a person to be fit and fine. Here are some of the structural problems that could cause back pain.

  • Ruptured disks
  • The vertebras that are found in our spine are cushioned by disks. The ruptured disks can put additional pressure on the nerves, which can eventually lead to a back pain.

  • Bulging disks
  • The problem of bulging disks is quite similar to ruptured disks in terms of leading a person to a back pain.

  • Sciatica
  • This is a sharp pain that moves from the buttock to the back of the leg. It is the result of bulging or herniated disks.

  • Arthritis
  • This cause must not be a surprising cause for anyone. According to the statistics, around 1 in 5 adults in the United States are diagnosed with some sort of arthritis. Among many types of arthritis, osteoarthritis is one of the common forms of arthritis. The person diagnosed with osteoarthritis usually experiences issues with joints in the knees, hands, hips, and lower back.

  • Osteoporosis
  • Osteoporosis is a condition, which can make bones and vertebrae of the spines brittle and porous. The poor bone health could also lead to a back pain.

  • Abnormal spine curvature
  • The spine curves could create a problem in the back. The perfect example of this case is scoliosis in which the spines curve sideways.

    Some other causes of back pain are:

    • Caudal equine syndrome
    • Spine infection
    • Spine cancer
    • Sleep disorders
    • Improper body postures
    • Shingles

    The study shows that the majority of the back pain is either non-organic or mechanical, which means that it is not the result of serious conditions, such as arthritis, infection, or others.

    What are the symptoms of chronic back pain?

    The symptoms of back pain can be usually detected by the people. As the name suggests, the main symptom of chronic back pain is a pain anywhere in the back. Some cases of back pain could lead to pain in other parts of the body as well, which depends on the affected nerves.

    The symptoms of back pain usually disappear within a short period of time, but it’s different in the case of chronic back pain. The pain lasts for more than 12 weeks, and the pain is severe. It does not heal immediately with initial treatment. In order for the pain to disappear, the exact cause of the pain must be diagnosed for the proper treatment.

    The pain could be suffered from a variety of ways, and they are:

    • The dull or achy pain, which is usually contained to lower back.
    • The stinging and burning type of pain that moves from the lower back to even lower legs.
    • The muscle spasm and tightness in the hips, lower back, and pelvis.
    • The pain that worsens when sitting or standing.
    • The pain that creates difficulties in standing, sitting, walking or going from standing to sitting.

    Here are some of the signs that could be seen in the patients that could accompany the back pain.

    • Unusual loss of weight
    • High fever
    • Inflammation or back swell
    • Pain in the legs
    • The inconsistency in urination
    • Difficulty while urinating
    • Difficulty in controlling bowel
    • Numbness around genitals, anus, and buttocks

    How does the doctor Diagnose the Chronic Back Pain?

    The doctors usually can find out the back pain after conducting some simple physical examinations. There are cases in chronic back pain that require a doctor to further tests to identify the cause of the back pain.

  • X-Rays
  • The X-Ray can help in finding out the alignment of bones and to see if a person has arthritis or broken bones, but it is not so effective in identifying problems with the spinal cord, disks, and muscles.

  • CT scans or MRI
  • These scans help in revealing herniated disks and problems associated with tissues, tendons, blood vessels, muscles, bones, ligaments, and nerves.

  • Bone scan
  • This scan can be very effective in finding bone tumors or compression fractures because of brittle bones. It can diagnose out the back pain caused by osteoporosis.

  • Electromyography or EMG
  • This test helps in confirming nerve compression that could be occurred due to spinal stenosis or the herniated disks. This test could be followed by blood a blood test if a doctor suspects an infection.

    Conclusion

    Knowing about chronic back pain causes and chronic back pain symptoms can help the person in the prevention and diagnosing the chronic back pain. However, it’s also true that one could suffer from chronic back pain no matter how hard he/she tries to prevent themselves from the chronic back pain.

    The good thing is that there are plenty of ways to treat* the chronic back pain and live a normal life. The main point to notice here is that one must not ignore their chronic back pain. And, do consult a doctor to get some valuable tips and solutions for the problem.

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    Author

    Expert Author : Beth Solomon (Consumer Health Digest)

    Beth Solomon has been writing articles on health for more than two years with a concentration on pain management and men’s and women’s health and fitness. She has been a contributing editor to Consumer Health Digest since 2013.