Everyone has experienced some form of back pain. But while back pain is incredibly common, no two people experience it in the same way. With so many different muscles, nerves, and bones making up the back and spine, there are many opportunities for things to go awry. Here is a brief guide to understanding the different types of back pain.
Your spine is made up of an alternating chain of vertebrae and discs. These discs are made of cartilage and provide a cushion between your vertebrae. Spinal discs are supposed to stay perfectly in line with your vertebrae, but sometimes one can slip out of place. When this happens, it’s called a herniated disc and it can be extremely painful.
When a disc is herniated, it puts undue pressure on certain nerves in your spinal column. This is the source of the pain. If you’re feeling a sharp, shooting pain coming from a specific location in your back, you may have a herniated disc. Herniated discs can be difficult to diagnose and even more difficult to treat. Talk to your doctor about your symptoms and treatment options.
Your spinal column is supported by numerous muscles in your back. These muscles are what support you, keep you upright, and allow you to bend and move. You use these muscles all day long, even when you don’t realize it. Sitting, driving, walking, and cooking all require the use of your back muscles.
Because you use your back muscles all day, every day, there are many opportunities to injure or aggravate these muscles. Sitting for too long in the same position, poor posture, and twisting or turning around too quickly can all cause muscle strain.
Muscle strain will heal itself with time and rest. If you’ve injured a muscle in your back, take it easy for a while. Make slow, controlled movements when you do have to move, and make sure your back is well-supported whenever you sit or lie down. You can even wear a back brace for added support while your muscles recover.
Most people think that arthritis is something you only get in your hands and knees. But arthritis attacks all joints, and your spine is a series of numerous joints. Back pain due to arthritis is different from other types of pain because it comes on slowly and gradually worsens over time.
People with arthritis back pain often find that they wake up in the morning feeling very stiff. This stiffness doesn’t go away with a quick stretch or a hot shower, either. Rather, arthritis pain will cause more and more pain throughout the day. Luckily, there are a number of treatment options for arthritis pain so talk to your doctor about finding the one that’s right for you.
Back pain caused by nerve damage is sometimes referred to as neuropathic pain. Neuropathic pain is caused by an injury – such as a fall or a car crash. The injury heals, but the nerves remain damaged. This type of pain is often sharp, throbbing, or accompanied by tingling or numbness in the limbs. It is also more difficult to treat and may require surgery.