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Back Pain

Back PainBack pain is typically the body’s response to injury or degenerative changes of the spine that develop over time. The spine is a very important structure of our body that is responsible for movement, support and protection of our spinal cord and nerves.

When structures of the spine are damaged or injured back pain may result. Commonly, these are injuries of the soft tissues, such as muscles, tendons or ligaments, or more rarely injuries to the vertebra themselves such as fractures. Back pain may also be caused by problems of the discs or arthritis or injury to the nerves of the spine.

Back pain can be divided into chronic or acute. Most commonly, acute pain is severe, short lived and tends to come on suddenly, but also may resolve suddenly and typically treated with conservative treatment such as pain medication, physical therapy, exercise and rest. Chronic pain is a more deep-seated, persistent pain that is more difficult to treat and often not relieved by conservative care.


Commonly acute back pain is the result of strains of our muscles or sprains of our ligaments of our back. This would be typical after injuries such as in the case where a patient may be doing excessive of unusual work or exercise and typically would be related to an accident, an athletic injury, fall, poor posture, improper lifting technique, stress or other physical injury. Patients who are obese, who smoke, have lack or normal exercise or are pregnant may be at increased risk to develop back pain.


It is pain emanating from the spine itself. Examples of mechanical low back pain would be degenerative disc disease, arthritis, herniated disc, spondylolysis, spondylolisthesis and spinal stenosis. More rarely, developmental problems where the spine developed improperly or incompletely, can be a cause of back pain. Additionally, tumors, infection or systemic inflammatory conditions can lead to back pain as well.

Most causes of back pain cause symptoms that are transient. However, if you experience back pain and it is persistent or is a result of trauma, or if you are having difficulty with weakness or numbness in your extremities, problems with you bowel or bladder, then seeing a physician is in order. Other reasons to see a physician would be the development of fever or headaches, chest pain with radiating left arm pain, or if your symptoms have been present for greater than three days in regards to acute back pain, or greater than six weeks of chronic pain.

Blue Distinction Center for Spine Surgery