Back pain can be caused by many factors, including relatively simple issues like muscle strain and more significant problems like progressive and degenerative spine diseases. Some of the medical conditions that can cause or contribute to back pain include:
Some patients will have chronic back pain following back surgery, a condition sometimes referred to as “failed back surgery syndrome.” Having a comprehensive physical examination and diagnostic imaging studies are important for ensuring accurate diagnosis and effective treatment.
Spinal stenosis is a condition that causes the spinal canal to become narrow, resulting in pressure on the nerves carried by the spine. Stenosis usually develops as a result of age-related changes and wear and tear involving the vertebrae, joints or discs. Stenosis typically occurs in the lower back (lumbar stenosis) or the neck (cervical stenosis). While the condition is very common among older adults, many people have stenosis without experiencing significant symptoms.
The sacroiliac (SI) joints are located where the triangular shaped sacrum bone at the base of the spine meets with the pelvis at two locations. The joint acts as a shock absorber for the spine and also promotes rotational movements. SI joint pain can be caused by a fall or other traumatic injury, from inflammatory joint disease, as a result of scoliosis or anatomical deformities. Symptoms typically occur when moving from a sitting to standing position, resulting in pain and discomfort in the low back, buttocks, and legs.
Most back pain can be treated conservatively, at least initially, using a combination of rest, physical therapy, oral medication and injections designed to relieve both pain and inflammation so that range of motion and mobility are restored. In some cases, though, conservative approaches may prove ineffective and surgery may be needed to correct underlying issues and relieve painful symptoms. Advances in technology and surgical techniques enable surgeons to perform many procedures using minimally-invasive approaches designed to facilitate faster healing, fewer complications, and less discomfort during recovery.
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