Back Pain

About Back Pain

Back pain refers to pain experienced in any parts of the upper, middle or—most commonly—lower back. There are several structures in the back known to cause pain, but identifying the exact cause can be difficult since all of the possible pain generators can cause the same sensation of pain—there is nothing unique about pain that comes from a disc or facet joint. Moreover, your pain can be experienced in a location distant from the actual source. Lastly, it is important to recognize that the spine is a coordinated and complex structure, and all of the parts work together in health. It is very difficult to just treat an isolated area, often the spine needs to managed as a structural unit.

Common Causes of Back Pain

Imaging tests can show many anatomical and structural abnormalities, but can be misleading as to identifying the correct pain generator. It is also important to keep in mind that while pain in the back, buttocks and legs often go together, they can have the same or separate sources. Pain can arise from spinal structures such as the discs, joints (facet and sacroiliac), or spinal nerves, as well as ligaments, muscles, and peripheral nerves. Common diagnoses of back pain include, but are not limited to:

  • Spinal stenosis or narrowing in the spine
  • Herniated, bulging, or degenerated discs
  • Scar tissue after surgery
  • Sciatica, or pain down the leg
  • Arthritis, degeneration, or injury of the joints in the spine
  • Injury or degeneration of the ligaments or connective tissue in the spine

Treatment of Back Pain

Treatment options include: