Causes and Symptoms of Back Pain
- Degenerative disk or vertebrae problems – such as osteoarthritis, a type of joint inflammation, breakdown and eventual loss of cartilage, the dense elastic connective tissue that covers the ends of bones and forms some body parts, and spondylosis, a joining of vertebrae with one another so that they become fused.
- Sprain or strain – back pain typically begins on the day after heavy exertion. Muscles in the back, buttocks, and thighs are often sore and stiff.
- Fibromyalgia – in addition to back pain, there are usually other areas of pain and stiffness in the trunk, neck, shoulders, hips, and joints. Pain may be either a general soreness or a gnawing ache, and stiffness is often worst in the morning. Typically, patients also complain of feeling abnormally tired, especially of waking up tired, and they have discreetly painful body areas called “Tender points”.
- Arthritis of the spine – together with back pain, there is back stiffness with trouble bending over.
- Ankylosing spondylitis – there is pain in the lower back, together with morning stiffness in the back and/or hips. There may also be pain and stiffness in the neck or chest; an extremely “Tired” feeling; and eye pain, sometimes with vision problems.
- Osteoporosis – a loss of bony tissue that makes bones fragile enough to break easily. The patient is usually a woman who has entered menopause. She may have a stooped or hunched posture, together with a history of several broken bones.
- Spinal tumor or metastases – there is persistent back pain, which may be worse in the recumbent position, sometimes with progressive numbness, weakness, or “Tingling” of the legs. If cancer spreads to spinal nerves affecting the bladder and bowels, there may be incontinence or difficulty controlling the bowels.
- Protruding spinal disk – there is severe pain in the lower back. If a disk compresses a nerve root, the pain may spread down one leg. Pain intensifies during bending or twisting.
- Spinal stenosis – pain, numbness, and/or weakness affects the back and legs. Symptoms worsen when the patient is “On his feet”, but are relieved by sitting.
- Pyelonephritis – there is usually sudden, intense pain in the upper back, which may travel around the side toward the lower abdomen, or sometimes down to the groin. There may also be high fever, shaking chills, and nausea and vomiting. The urine may be cloudy, tinged with blood, or unusually “Strong” or foul smelling.
- Sciatica – a pressure on a nerve root causing pain in the lower back and down the back of the thigh and leg along the path of the sciatic nerve.
- Chronic overload of the back muscles due to obesity.
- Short–term overload of back muscles due to pregnancy.
However, if your doctor suspects a more serious problem involving your vertebrae or spinal nerves (especially if your back pain has lasted longer than 12 weeks), you may need one or more of the following tests for back pain:
- X–rays of your back
- Bone scans.
- Blood tests.
- Spinal Magnetic Resonance imaging (MRI).
- Computed Tomography (CT) or CT–myelography.
- (Sometimes) Nerve conduction studies & electromyography (EMG).