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Lose The Back Pain System
What Is Causing My Lower Back Pain?
Lower back pain is one of the leading reasons people in the United States visit their doctors. It will
inhibit the lives of millions of Americans this year. In fact, an average four out of five adults will
experience low back pain at some point in their lives. So the question, "What is causing my lower back
pain?" is not uncommon.
Lower back pain can be excruciating. It can be caused by a large variety of injuries or conditions, such as:
lower back muscles may be strained
discs between the vertebrae may be injured
large nerve roots extending to arms and legs may be irritated
smaller nerves that supply the lower back spine may be irritated
joints, ligaments, or even bones may be injured
When lower back pain occurs with other symptoms such as fever and chills, a serious medical condition
may be present. You should see a doctor immediately.
Three categories of lower back pain
Your lower back pain will fall into one of three categories, which your doctor bases on your description
of the pain.
1. Axial lower back pain - mechanical or simple back pain
2. Radicular lower back pain - sciatica
3. Lower back pain with referred pain
1. Axial Lower Back Pain
Axial lower back pain is the most common of the three. It is felt only in the lower back area with no pain
radiating to other parts of the body. It is sometimes called mechanical back pain or simple back pain.
Description: Axial lower back pain can vary greatly. It may be sharp or dull, constant or intermittent. On
a scale of 1 to 10, you may rate its intensity #1 or a full #10. It may increase with certain activity - when
playing tennis, for example. It may worsen in certain positions - such as sitting at a desk. It may or may
not be relieved by rest.
Diagnosis: Axial lower back pain might be diagnosed by you rather than your physician. You know it
started when you were helping a friend move a heavy couch. On the other hand, it may be your doctor
who determines that you have strained or otherwise damaged back muscles, have a degenerated disc,
Treatment: The cause of your axial lower back pain does not matter when it comes to treatment. You
will want to rest for a day or two. Follow this by gentle back pain exercises and stretching. If you have
more pain after exercise, use a heating pad on low or medium setting. Take an appropriate over-thecounter pain medication. Follow your doctor's advice.
Prognosis: Symptoms of axial lower back pain disappear with time, and about 90% of patients recover
within four to six weeks. If you do not feel better within six to eight weeks, additional testing and/or
injections may be needed to diagnose and treat the source of the pain.
Caution: If your pain is chronic, or so severe that it awakens you during the night, see your doctor.
2. Radicular Lower Back Pain
Radicular lower back pain is commonly referred to as sciatica. It is felt in the lower back area, thighs, and
Description: Radicular lower back pain often begins in the lower back, and then follows a specific nerve
path into the thighs and legs. Your leg pain may be much worse than your back pain. It is often deep and
steady. It may readily be reproduced with certain activities and positions, such as sitting or walking.
Diagnosis: Radicular lower back pain is caused by compression of the lower spinal nerve. The most
common cause is a herniated disc with compression of the nerve. Other causes might be diabetes or
injury to the nerve root. If you had previous back surgery, scar tissue may be affecting the nerve root.
Elderly adults may have a narrowing of the hole through which the spinal nerve exits.
Treatment: Conservative treatment is the best place to begin. Rest for a few days in a bed or chair.
Follow this by gradual introduction of gentle exercises specifically for back pain relief. Follow your
exercise with additional rest, applying a heating pad on low to medium setting. Soak daily in Epsom salts
baths. Take an appropriate over-the-counter pain medication. Your doctor may want to use selective
Prognosis: Symptoms of radicular low back pain may decrease with the conservative treatment outlined
above. Give your back and legs six to eight weeks to improve. If surgery is needed after that, it typically
provides relief of the leg pain for 85% to 90% of patients. The back pain itself is more difficult to relieve.
Caution: If an MRI or CT-myelogram does not definitely confirm nerve compression, back surgery is
unlikely to be successful.
3. Lower Back Pain with Referred Pain
Lower back pain with referred pain is not as common as axial or radicular back pain. This pain, which
does not radiate down the thighs and legs, may be caused by the same conditions that cause axial lower
Description: You will usually feel referred pain in the low back area, radiating into your groin, buttocks,
and upper thigh. The pain may move around, but it will rarely go below your knee. It often is an achy,
dull pain. It tends to come and go. Sometimes it is very sharp, but other times it is only a dull sensation.
It can be caused by the identical injury or problem that causes simple axial back pain. Often, it is no
Diagnosis: It is very important to have a physician determine whether your pain is lower back pain with
referred pain or radicular lower back pain, since the treatment varies considerably.
Treatment: Once you know for sure that yours is lower back pain with referred pain, you can follow the
treatment for axial lower back pain.
Prognosis: Symptoms of lower back pain with referred pain disappear with time, usually within four to
six weeks. If you do not feel better within six to eight weeks, ask your physician if additional testing
and/or injections are needed.
Caution: If your lower back pain is chronic, or so severe it awakens you during the night, you should see
You will want to visit http://www.backpainreliefblog.com for more detailed information about lower
back pain. Packed with articles about many kinds of back pain, Back Pain Relief Blog offers practical,
down-to-earth advice on how to care for your back. Find back pain exercises to avoid back pain and to
heal your aching back. Learn what natural remedies are available for back pain relief.
2007© Anna Hart. Read Anna's other articles about the causes of back pain at
http://www.backpainreliefblog.com for more answers to your questions about lower back pain and its
Article Source: http://ezinearticles.com/?expert=Anna_Hart
Chronic Back Pain Limitations
Thousands and thousands of people annually seek medical care for back pain. For some, the pain is gone
within 6 weeks. For others, it becomes chronic back pain.
Chronic back pain affects individuals in various ways. Most make repeated visits to physicians, seeking
relief. They want to know what causes their chronic back pain. They want new tests. They want to try
whatever treatment may be available.
Chronic back pain sufferers may report difficulty in performing normal daily activities. They may believe
the pain is increasing. They may simply want someone to sympathize, and agree that it is not "all in your
head" at all.
Although back pain is the main reason people visit orthopedic surgeons and neurosurgeons, and the
second main reason they visit primary care physicians, an estimated 5 to 10 percent of those visitors will
receive no cure. They will go from low back pain to chronic back pain.
Patients are frustrated because physicians do not cure back pain. Physicians are frustrated because they
cannot cure low back pain. Many think they can do little to prevent occasional severe back pain from
becoming chronic back pain.
If nothing is done, however, chronic back pain limitations can seriously impinge on daily activity.
A look at possible chronic back pain limitations reveals a long list. There are limitations placed by a
physician, but there are many more limitations that patients place on themselves. They may include
physical limitations, emotional limitations, or mental limitations. Of the many chronic back pain
limitations we can discuss only 7 here.
1. Depression: One of the most common limitations of chronic back pain, depression affects everyone
involved in the daily life of the sufferer. The type of depression experienced by sufferers of chronic back
pain is not simply a matter of feeling sad or "down at the heels" for a day or so. "Major depression" and
"clinical depression" are the terms used for this kind of depression.
When chronic back pain limitations include a major depression, the person feels emotionally miserable
everyday for at least two weeks. He or she also may have unexplained crying spells; major appetite
changes; fatigue, sleep problems; agitation; and thoughts of death or suicide. There may be little
interest in activities that were normally enjoyable.
2. Social Activity: A second of the chronic back pain limitations reported is that of social activity. People
suffering chronic back pain become reluctant to attend parties and other social functions. They may
curtail recreational activities or outings with the family.
3. Work Time: Those who suffer chronic back pain are also more likely to take off more work time.
Statistics show that back pain causes the loss of more than 83 million days of work time each year due
to back pain.
4. Job Loss: Since it often means lost work time, another of chronic back pain limitations is job loss. Too
many lost days, or poor performance due to chronic back pain, can result in replacement.
5. Work Ability: Chronic back pain is a leading cause of work limitations. Back pain limits workers' ability
to lift, carry, and perform other duties that are required. It places restrictions on workers, and narrows
the job field for many people.
6. Low Pay: Chronic back pain limitations include financial limits for some. Those who are limited in work
by chronic back pain earn, on average, only two-thirds the amount of those without back pain.
7. Housework: One of the largest limitations of chronic back pain appears to hit normal activities
associated with housework, gardening, and lawn work. Patients with back pain that lasted more than 60
days often report they are no longer able to do any gardening, lawn work, or normal cleaning activities
such as vacuuming, mopping floors, etc.
Clinically Proven Limitations
For the patient, it is difficult to believe that chronic back pain limitations are often unnecessary. They
continue to believe that the pain has a cause that can be readily diagnosed, despite their physician's
repeated assurances to the contrary. They believe the physician can find a medical sure for their back
pain if pressed often enough and hard enough. As for treatment, patients often believe that until the
cure is found, the best treatment is bed rest and limited activity.
The result of such beliefs is that back pain that could initially be resolved with exercise becomes chronic
back pain. Chronic back pain that might still be resolved if the patient were to exercise regularly
gradually develops and produces chronic back pain limitations.
TIP: Back pain is very, very common in our society. Rather than let it lead to complications and
limitations, you may want to ask your physician for gentle exercises that may resolve your back pain
before it becomes chronic.
©2007, Anna Hart. Anna herself is a back pain sufferer, and can sympathize with your problem. She
invites you to read more of her articles about back pain at http://www.backpainreliefblog.com Anna has
posted additional information on that site about chronic back pain, and articles that describe back pain
exercises you can do at home. Pay Anna a visit now.
Article Source: http://ezinearticles.com/?expert=Anna_Hart
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/504586
Understanding Low Back Pain by Aileen Norgell, MD
Low Back Pain in Adults
About 3 in 4 people have one or more episodes of low back pain. Most episodes soon ease and are not
due to serious back problems. In most cases the usual advice is to keep active, and do normal activities
as much as possible. Painkillers are helpful until the pain eases. Chronic (persistent) pain develops in
some cases, and further treatment may then be needed.
Most of the lower back is made up from muscles that attach to, and surround, the spine. The spine is
made up of many bones called vertebrae. The vertebrae are roughly circular and between each vertebra
is a 'disc'. The discs are made of strong rubber-like tissue which allows the spine to be fairly flexible.
Strong ligaments also attach to adjacent vertebrae to give extra support and strength to the spine. The
various muscles that are attached to the spine enable the spine to bend and move in various ways.
The spinal cord, which contains the nerves that come from the brain, is protected by the spine. Nerves
from the spinal cord come out from between the vertebrae to take and receive messages to various
parts of the body.
What are the types of low back pain?
Simple low back pain
This is the most common type. About 19 in 20 cases of acute (sudden onset) low back pain are classed as
'simple low back pain'. (It is sometimes called 'non-specific' low back pain.) Simple low back pain means
that the pain is not due to any underlying disease that can be found. In some cases the cause may be a
sprain (an over-stretch) of a ligament or muscle. In other cases the cause may be a minor problem with a
disc between two vertebrae, or a minor problem with a small 'facet' joint between two vertebrae.
However, these causes of the pain are impossible to prove by tests and so it is often impossible for a
doctor to say exactly where the pain is coming from, or exactly what is causing the pain.
Sometimes a pain may develop immediately after you lift something heavy, or after an awkward twisting
movement. Sometimes you can just wake up with low back pain.
Simple does not mean that the pain is mild - the pain can range from mild to very bad. Typically, the pain
is in one area of the lower back, but sometimes it spreads to the buttocks or thighs. The pain is usually
eased by lying down flat, and is often made worse if you move your back, cough, or sneeze. So, simple
back pain is 'mechanical' in the sense that it varies with posture or activity.
Most bouts of simple low back pain improve quickly, usually within a week or so. In about 3 in 4 cases,
the pain has either gone or has greatly eased within four weeks. In about 9 in 10 cases the pain has gone
or has greatly eased within six weeks. However, once the pain has gone it is common to have further
bouts of pain (recurrences) from time to time in the future. Also, it is common to have minor pains 'on
and off' for quite some time after an initial bad bout of pain. In a small number of cases the pain persists
for several months or longer (chronic back pain).
Nerve root pain
This occurs in less than 1 in 20 cases. This means that a nerve coming from the spinal cord is irritated or
pressed on. (This is often referred to as a 'trapped nerve'.) You feel pain along the course of the nerve.
Therefore, you may feel pain down a leg to the calf or foot, and the pain in the leg or foot is often worse
than the pain in the back. A common example is 'sciatica'. This is where a main nerve to the leg, the
sciatic nerve, is irritated or pressed on.
Nerve root pain can range in severity from mild to very bad. Like with simple low back pain, nerve root
pain is often eased by lying down flat, and is often made worse if you move your back, cough, or sneeze.
The irritation or pressure on the nerve may also cause pins and needles, numbness or weakness in part
of a buttock, leg or foot.
The cause of the irritation or pressure on a nerve may be due to inflammation caused by a ligament or
muscle sprain. A 'slipped disc' is another well known cause. (A disc does not actually 'slip'. What happens
is that part of the inner softer part of the disc bulges out (prolapses) through a weakness in the outer
harder part of the disc. The prolapsed part of the disc can press on a nerve nearby. Other less common
conditions can press on a nerve to cause nerve root pain.
Less common causes of low back pain
Arthritis (inflammation of the joints) of the spine sometimes causes back pain. Osteoarthritis is the
common form or arthritis and usually occurs in older people. Ankylosing spondylitis is another form of
arthritis that can occur in young adults and causes pain and stiffness in the lower back. Rheumatoid
arthritis may affect the spine, but you are likely to have other joints affected too.
Various uncommon bone disorders, tumors, infections, and pressure from structures near to the spine
occasionally cause back pain. (Less than 1 in 100 cases of low back pain.)
How can I tell what type of back pain I have?
Most cases of low back pain that develop suddenly (acutely) are due to simple low back pain. Many
people just 'get on with it' and treat it themselves - and indeed most get better quickly. However, if in
doubt, see your doctor for a check-over and advice.
As a general guide, if any of the following occur then it may indicate that it may not be simple low back
pain, and there may be a more serious underlying cause such as a nerve root problem, or another
disorder. Therefore, tell a doctor if you have any of the following.
The pain first develops under the age of 20 years or over the age of 55 years.
Constant back pain that is not eased by lying down or resting.
Pain travels to the chest, or is higher in the back behind the chest.
If the pain developed gradually, and slowly gets worse and worse over days or weeks. (Most
cases of simple low back pain occur acutely, that is, suddenly.)
In addition to back pain, you have:
1. Weakness of any muscles in a leg or foot.
2. Numbness (lack of feeling) in part or parts of a buttock, around the anus, or in a leg or foot.
3. Problems with your bladder or bowels such as not being able to pass urine or loss of control
Weight loss, fever, or if you feel generally unwell.
Recent history of violent trauma or injury to the back.
You have or have had a cancer of any part of the body.
You have taken steroid tablets for more than a few months.
If you have a poor immune system. For example, if you are on chemotherapy or have HIV/AIDS.
* If you are unsure about any symptom.
Cauda equina syndrome - rare, but an emergency
Cauda equina syndrome is a particularly serious type of nerve root problem. This is a rare disorder
where the nerves at the very bottom of the spinal cord are pressed on. This syndrome can cause low
back pain plus: problems with bowel and bladder function (usually unable to pass urine), numbness in
the 'saddle' area (around the anus), and weakness in one or both legs. This syndrome needs urgent
treatment to preserve the nerves to the bladder and bowel from becoming permanently damaged. See
a doctor immediately if you develop these symptoms.
Do I need any tests?
Your doctor will normally be able to diagnose simple low back pain or nerve root pain from the
description of the pain, and by examining you. In most cases, no tests are needed. For example, x-rays or
scans of the back are not helpful and do not show anything abnormal if you have simple low back pain.
Also, if you have sudden onset nerve root pain, and symptoms begin to improve over the next few
weeks, then no tests are needed.
Tests such as x-rays or scans may be advised if nerve root pain persists or is severe, or if another serious
cause of the pain is suspected.
What are the treatments for simple low back pain?
The following advice and treatment is commonly given for a sudden 'acute' bout of simple low back
pain. Most people recover quickly.
Initially, rest if the pain is severe, then when you are able,exercise and keep going.Continue with normal
activities as far as possible. This may not be possible at first if the pain is very bad. However, move
around as soon as possible, and get back into normal activities as soon as you are able. As a rule, don't
do anything that causes a lot of pain. However, you will have to accept some discomfort when you are
trying to keep active. Setting a new goal each day may be a good idea. For example, walking around the
house on one day, a walk around the block the next, etc.
In the past, advice had been to rest until the pain eases. It is now known that this was wrong. You are
likely to recover more quickly and are less likely to develop chronic (persistent) back pain if you keep
active when you have back pain rather than rest a lot. Also, sleep in the most naturally comfortable
position on whatever is the most comfortable surface. (Advice given in the past used to be to sleep on a
firm mattress. However, there is no evidence to say that a firm mattress is better than any other type of
mattress for people with low back pain.)
If you need painkillers, it is best to take them regularly. This is better than taking them 'now and again'
just when the pain is very bad. If you take them regularly the pain is more likely to be eased for much of
the time and enable you to exercise and keep active.
Acetaminophen is often sufficient if you take it regularly at full strength.
Anti-inflammatory painkillers. Some people find that these work better than acetaminophen.
They include ibuprofen which you can buy at pharmacies or get on prescription. Other types
such as diclofenac or high dose naproxen need a prescription. Some people with asthma, high
blood pressure, kidney failure, or heart failure may not be able to take anti-inflammatories.
A stronger painkiller such as codeine is an option if anti-inflammatories do not suit you, or do
not work well. Codeine is often taken in addition to acetaminophen. Constipation is a common
side-effect from codeine. This may make back pain worse if you need to strain to go to the
toilet. To prevent constipation, have lots to drink and eat foods with plenty of fiber.
A muscle relaxant is sometimes prescribed for a few days if the back muscles become very tense
and make the pain worse.
Some people visit a physiotherapist, chiropractor, or osteopath for manipulation and/or other physical
treatments. It is debatable whether physical treatments would help all people with acute simple low
back pain. However, physical treatments provide some short-term comfort and hasten recovery in some
Treatment may vary, and the situation should be reviewed by a doctor if the pain becomes worse, or if
the pain persists beyond 4-6 weeks, or if symptoms change. Other pain relieving techniques may be
tried if the pain becomes chronic (persistent).
What are the treatments for back pain other than simple back pain?
Nerve root pain
In many cases, the treatment is the same as that described above for simple low back pain. Nerve root
pain often eases and resolves over a few weeks. Physical treatments such as spinal manipulation may
provide some short-term comfort and hasten recovery in some cases. Some people with persistent back
pain that is caused by prolapsed disc pressing on a nerve may benefit from an operation.
Other causes of back pain
Treatments depend on the underlying cause. For example, pain caused by types of arthritis may be
treated by various anti-arthritis medicines.
Can further bouts of back pain be prevented?
Evidence suggests that the best way to prevent bouts of low back pain is simply to keep active, and to
exercise regularly. This means general fitness exercise such as walking, running, swimming etc. There is
no firm evidence to say that any particular 'back strengthening' exercises are more useful than simply
keeping fit and active. It is also sensible to be 'back aware'. For example, do not lift objects when you are
in an awkward twisting posture.
In summary - some points to remember
Acute low back pain is usually not a serious condition - even if the pain is bad.
Most people recover quickly - often within a week or so.
Stay as active as possible and return to normal activities as soon as possible, including work.
People with back pain who get active, and back to normal activities as soon as possible
(including work) are likely to recover more quickly and are less likely to develop chronic
(persistent) back pain compared to those who rest and do little exercise.
If the pain is very bad, you may have to rest in bed for a day or so - but get active as soon as
possible. Begin slowly and be cautious. Bed rest does not promote recovery. You need to get
your muscles going again rather than let them stiffen up by resting.
You may have to put up with some pain while initiating normal activities.
Painkillers taken regularly will ease pain while you are getting back to normal activities.
See a doctor if the pain gets worse, or persists more than 4-6 weeks, or if you develop any
worrying symptoms (which are listed above).
About the Author
Aileen Norgell, MD is a Board Certified primary care physician, in Orlando, Florida
Back Pain Treatment: Variety Of Options Available by Shaun Tail
Back pain occurs due to various causes and in 90% of the back pain cases, the pain disappears easily by
various back pain treatment. However, proper medical advice and treatment is essential in cases where
the pain persists for a long time.
Back pain treatment is effective if the exact cause is identified. The severity of back pain may vary from a
dull ache to searing feeling. It may be due a strain in the muscles or an injury or problems like
Osteoarthritis, arthritis, bone fracture or tumor or some infection. Although back pain may emerge
suddenly, it may be caused by a problem, which has plagued us for a long time. It is essential that we
identify the true cause of the back pain, if we want to eliminate or treat it fully.
A number of back pain treatment options are available for people suffering from back pain. However,
the treatment may vary from person to person depending on the cause or the reason for the back pain.
The exact nature of the pain and its severity can be judged by a specialist who will than suggest the most
Exercising is the best back pain treatment. It is a general notion that bed rest is the best cure for back
pain. But evidence has shown that rest does not aid in the recovery of a person suffering from Back pain.
It is much better if one carries on with normal activities while taking some measures for relieving the
pain. The most recommended exercises for curing back pain are short walks, stretching exercises and
swimming. However, it is advisable that one starts slowly and than gradually builds up the speed at
which the various exercises are undertaken.
Application of a cold pack or a bag of ice to the back is also often recommended by the doctors. This
form of treatment is generally used within the first 48 hours after the start of the back pain. A cold pack
is generally applied for 5-10 minutes. Ice reduces the inflammation and swelling, numbs soft tissues, and
slows nerve impulses in the injured area.
A large number of drugs are also used as back pain treatment that reduce the pain and are easily
available in the market. However, many of them can have serious side effects and so should be taken
only after consulting a physician. Several non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) such as
aspirin, ibuprofen, Naproxen®, Ketoprofen® are capable of reducing pain. These anti-inflammatory
medications help in reducing the swelling and inflammation while healing the injured portion. Acute or
chronic back pain may be treated by an anticonvulsant or an oral steroid.
Steroid injections are also effective in reducing the inflammation and the treatment of back pain caused
by spinal stenosis, disc herniation, and degenerative disc disease. A steroid is injected directly into the
membrane that surrounds the nerve roots (dura).
Other forms of back pain treatment include the massage therapy, the electrotherapy and the
adjustment of the spine Chiropractors and osteopaths. Acupuncture may also prove to be effective in
some cases. Finally surgery may be recommended in cases where the pain is not curable by any of the
other forms of treatment.
Asheesh Mani is the Online Editor of Online Back Pain Resource. He has developed this site to provide
valuable information to people suffering from back pain. This site enumerates different causes and
factors related to back pain, guides through the different back pain treatments and suggests exercises
for treatments of different types of back pain. The site is a free online resource for back pain and its
remedies. The visitors can also find valuable information and reviews about the different equipments
and therapies for back pain relief.
Visit http://www.backpain-resources-online.com for more information.
Author writes articles on different topics. To know more, visit:
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About the Author
Back pain occurs due to various causes and in 90% of the back pain cases, the pain disappears easily by
various back pain treatment.