Back Pain Clinic @ Bone SG

Symptoms and diagnosis for Back Pain
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By Orthopaedic and Neurology Clinic

Back pain info

What is a Back Pain? 

Our back can generally be divided into three areas. Thoracic spine is associated with the chest and connects to your ribs. Lumbar spine is generally known as the lower back. The sacral region is the very bottom of the spine. Any pain in those region can be referred to as a back pain.

What are the main causes of back pain?

Back pain can be the result of trauma, such as a fall or a car accident. But most often it is the result of an everyday activity done incorrectly — activities as common as twisting to reach or lift an object, sitting at a computer in the same position for hours, bending over to vacuum, and carrying shopping bags. 

Generally upper back pain causes by strain, injury or poor posture while trying to support the shoulder. An example of which is Rhomboid Pain. For the elderly, it maybe a Spinal Compression Fracture. Whereas lifting heavy objects or long term strain in supporting the whole back, could be immediate trigger causes low back pain

Several common back pain problems and conditions can affect individuals. Some of the most common back pain issues include:

  1. Muscle Strain: Strained or overworked muscles in the back are a frequent cause of back pain, often resulting from overexertion or poor lifting techniques.

  2. Herniated Disc (Bulging Disc): When the soft inner core of a spinal disc protrudes or leaks through the tougher exterior, it can press on nerves, leading to pain, tingling, or weakness in the back or limbs.

  3. Sciatica: Sciatica is characterized by pain radiating down the sciatic nerve, often stemming from a herniated disc or spinal stenosis.

  4. Spinal Stenosis: This condition involves the narrowing of the spinal canal, putting pressure on the spinal cord and nerves, leading to pain, numbness, and weakness.

  5. Osteoarthritis: Degeneration of the spinal joints due to wear and tear can result in pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility in the back.

  6. Scoliosis: An abnormal sideways curvature of the spine can lead to back pain, especially in severe cases.

  7. Ankylosing Spondylitis: This is a type of arthritis that primarily affects the spine, causing pain and stiffness.

  8. Osteoporosis: Weakened bones can lead to fractures in the spine, causing pain and a loss of height.

  9. Fibromyalgia: This chronic pain condition can lead to widespread musculoskeletal pain, including the back.

  10. Muscle Imbalance: Weak or imbalanced muscles in the back and core can result in back pain due to poor support and stability.

  11. Poor Posture: Chronic poor posture can strain the muscles and ligaments in the back, leading to discomfort.

  12. Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction: Pain in the sacroiliac joints, which connect the sacrum (base of the spine) to the pelvis, can lead to lower back discomfort.
  13. Myofascial Pain Syndrome: Trigger points in muscle tissue can cause localized and referred pain in the back.
  14. Facet Joint Syndrome: Arthritic changes or injury to the facet joints in the spine can result in pain and stiffness.
  15. Lumbar Strain: Strains can cause pain in the lower back, especially after heavy lifting or sudden movements.

What are some symptoms of a back pain?

Back pain that comes on suddenly and lasts no more than six weeks (acute) can be caused by a fall or heavy lifting. Pain in the back that lasts more than three months (chronic) is less common than acute pain.

Signs and symptoms of back pain can include:

  • Muscle ache
  • Shooting or stabbing pain
  • Pain that radiates down your leg
  • Back pain that worsens with bending, lifting, standing or walking
  • Pain that improves with reclining action

“Backache is one of the most common reasons for missed work.  In fact, back pain is the second most common reason for visits to the doctor’s office, outnumbered only by upper-respiratory infections.”

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What types of diagnosis?

Our Specialist may ask and conduct one or more of the following tests to determine whether you have sciatica nerve pain:

    • History of symptoms. Sciatica is a symptom that varies from one person to another and depends on the condition that’s causing it. To diagnose sciatica, our doctor will first want to get your full medical history. This includes whether you have had any recent injuries, where you feel the pain, and how the pain feels.
    • Physical examination. Our doctor will include testing your muscle strength and reflexes. He might also ask you to do some stretching and moving exercises to determine which activities cause more pain.
    • Electromyography or EMG. This measures the electrical impulses produced by nerves in response to muscles. Therefore it can confirm nerve compression, which may occur with a herniated disk or spinal stenosis.
    • X-rays. This can show the alignment of the bones and detect signs of arthritis or broken bones, but they may not reveal damage in the muscles, spinal cord, nerves, or disks.
    • MRI, CT scan. These scans can reveal herniated disks or problems with tissue, tendons, nerves, ligaments, blood vessels, muscles, and bones.
    • Bone scans. This can detect bone tumors or compression fractures caused by osteoporosis. A radioactive substance or tracer is injected into a vein. The tracer collects in the bones and helps the doctor detect bone problems with the aid of a special camera.

Possible treatment methods?

The treatment of back pain depends entirely on the cause of the problem. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that you understand the cause of your symptoms before embarking on a treatment program. If you are unsure of your diagnosis, or the severity of your condition, you should seek medical advice before beginning any treatment.

Physical therapy

Our therapist will apply heat, ice, ultrasound, and electrical stimulation — as well as some muscle-release techniques to the back muscles and soft tissues — may help relieve back pain.

As the pain improves, our physical therapist may introduce some flexibility and strength exercises for the back and abdominal muscles. Techniques for improving posture may also help.

The patient will be encouraged to practice the techniques regularly, even after the pain has gone, to prevent back pain recurrence.

Medication for Back Pain

Depending on the type of back pain you have, our doctor might recommend the following:

  • Pain relievers. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs might relieve acute back pain.
  • Muscle relaxants. If mild to moderate back pain doesn’t improve with pain relievers, our doctor might also prescribe a muscle relaxant. Muscle relaxants can make you dizzy and sleepy.
  • Injections. If other measures don’t relieve your pain, and if your pain radiates down your leg, our doctor may inject an anti-inflammatory medication.

Contact our doctor if your back pain:

  • Is severe and doesn’t improve with rest
  • Spreads down one or both legs, especially if the pain extends below the knee
  • Causes weakness, numbness or tingling in one or both legs
  • Is accompanied by unexplained weight loss

Also, see our doctor if you start having back pain for the first time after age 50, or if you have a history of cancer, osteoporosis, steroid use, or excessive drug or alcohol use.

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