Q&A: Back pain


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Seems like everyone I know has back pain. My husband and I both have back pain but I have a dull ache at the end of the day while he seems to be in pain from the shot. Why is our back so prone to pain and how do we know when we should talk to a doctor?

ANSWER: Back pain is extremely common, so you and your husband are not alone. Approximately 80% of adults in the United States will experience low blood pressure backache at a certain point. Your back is made up of 30 bones arranged in a column surrounded by muscles and ligaments. Nearly every movement you make involves your back in some way. This constant movement and support means your back is prone to strain and stress.

However, not all back pain is the same, and symptoms can vary widely. Sometimes a person with back pain can’t pinpoint exactly when it started, like when trying to lift a heavy object or after a fall. More commonly, there is no specific trigger or event that leads to the pain.

Here are the most common causes and descriptions of back pain:

  • Muscle or ligament strain: A muscle or ligament strain is often caused by a single event, such as poor use of the body’s mechanics to lift a heavy object. Sudden stabbing sensation, localized pain. This pain is aggravated when you contract or twist your body. There may be redness, swelling, and bruising. The pain can be intense. Occasionally, it is said that they have “thrown stones” behind their backs. In most cases, they have strained muscles or ligaments.
  • Osteoarthritis: Low back pain is often caused by osteoarthritis, the most common type of arthritis. Arthritis can lead to narrowing of the surrounding space spinal cord or nerve roots, a condition known as spinal stenosis. It occurs most often in the low back and neck. When this occurs in the low back, the most common symptoms are pain in both legs, tingling, numbness, and sometimes muscle weakness.
  • Inflated discs: Discs act as cushions between the bones or vertebrae in your spine. The material inside the disc can swell and press on the nerve. This is called a bulging disc. Pain from bulging discs usually occurs in the low back and radiates down the hips, buttocks, or legs. It is usually worse with activity and feels better with rest.
  • Herniated Disc: A herniated disc occurs when a tear in the hard outer layer of the disc allows some of the material inside the disc to protrude. A discarded disc is also known as a ruptured or slipped disc. But compared to a bulging disc, a herniated disc is easier to cause pain because it protrudes farther and easily irritates the nerve roots. Depending on the location of the herniated disc, you may experience pain, numbness, or weakness in one or both legs. These symptoms usually affect only one side of the body.
  • Sciatica: Sciatica is named after the sciatic nerve, which is the largest nerve in your body. It most commonly occurs when a herniated disc, bone spur, or spinal stenosis compresses part of a nerve. Sciatica is a sharp, stabbing pain that runs from your back down to the side or back of your leg. Usually, sciatica affects only one side of the body.
  • Degenerative Disc Disease: As you age, the discs between your vertebrae begin to shrink and lose softer material. This narrows the space between the vertebrae and can make your spine less flexible. Degenerative disc disease does not always cause symptoms. If present, symptoms vary widely in nature and severity. Generally, the pain comes and goes over a long period of time. It may feel better when you change positions or walk, and worse when you sit, bend, or twist.

When to schedule an appointment?

Most low back pain — even if severe — goes away on its own in six to eight weeks with self-care, such as resting after heavy lifting, applying heat or ice, and using pain relievers. over-the-counter and muscle stretching. Physical therapy can significantly reduce back and limb pain, and usually people don’t need further treatment.

Talk to your health care professional if you have a history of cancer or if you have pain:

  • Constant or intense, especially at night or when you lie down.
  • Spread down one or both legs.
  • Causes weakness, numbness, or tingling in one or both legs.
  • Presents with fever, swelling or redness on the back.
  • Occurs with unintended weight loss.
  • Occurs with new problems with bowel or bladder control.

Also, if your back pain occurs after a fall or other injury, you should seek medical attention.

Stay in motion with new artificial disc surgery

© 2022 Mayo Clinic News Network.

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