Where Does it Hurt?

Back

Many people experience back pain throughout their lives. Back pain is most commonly caused by stress, strain, injury, or can be related to serious medical conditions. Back pain can interfere greatly with your daily life, making it difficult to sleep, work, or enjoy hobbies and recreation. Shasta Orthopaedics can help with your back problems and get you back to enjoying your routine.

Common Back Problems

Overuse Injuries
Are you experiencing any of the following symptoms?
  • Pain in any area of the back
  • Muscles spasms
  • Stiffness in the back muscles

Back pain can arise from a minor injury that you may not remember, or can be caused by bad posture, sleeping position, or movement during work or recreational activity.

Strain or Sprain of the Back Muscles or Ligaments
Are you experiencing any of the following symptoms?
  • Aches in the back
  • Stiffness
  • Symptoms spread to arm, shoulder, or lower back

The terms strain and sprain refer to an injury to the ligaments or muscles in the back. This condition may arise from a sudden movement or an injury. The severity of sprains and strains and the associated symptoms can vary greatly. Symptoms may also include shooting pain that spreads into the arm or hand, most likely signifying the presence of a pinched nerve.

Pinched Nerve
Are you experiencing any of the following symptoms?
  • Sharp pain in any area of the back
  • Shooting pain that spreads into the arm and hand
  • May affect one or both arms depending on the severity
  • Numbness in the back or limbs
  • "Pins and needles" sensations
  • Burning sensations
  • Weakness in the arm or hand

The term pinched nerve designates a type of injury or damage to a nerve or set of nerves, most commonly resulting from compression, constriction, or stretching of the surrounding area. A pinched nerve may also result from arthritis. The severity of this condition can range from minor and temporary to long lasting and serious. Pinched nerves often result from activity and movement in work and recreational settings.

Torn or Ruptured Disc
Are you experiencing any of the following symptoms?
  • Pain in the center of the back
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Pain in the shoulder or down the arm
  • Numbness in the back or limbs
  • Tingling sensations

The bones, or vertebrae, that make up the spine are surrounded by small, round, flat discs. When these discs are damaged they may bulge or break open and press on a nerve. A torn or ruptured disc can occur as a result of an injury, normal wear and tear, or be caused by disease.

Cauda Equina Syndrome
Are you experiencing any of the following symptoms?
  • Tingling in the back or legs
  • Loss of sensation and feeling in the lower pelvic area and the legs
  • Bowel and bladder problems

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms it is important that you seek immediate medical attention. Cauda equina syndrome is a serious condition in which the nerve roots in the lower back are squeezed. A herniated disc that breaks open, or ruptures, into the area around the spine may cause cauda equina syndrome. The development of this condition may also be related to other back problems that can create pressure on the nerves in the lower back.

Serious Conditions that Weaken the Spine
These conditions, most common in older adults, can all cause back pain. Symptoms of these conditions may include pain, stiffness, limited motion, tenderness, swelling, enlargement of the joints, and bone deformity. Conditions that weaken the spine include:
  • Osteoarthritis - Condition in which the cartilage that protects and cushions the joints breaks down over time, causing bones to rub together and cause damage. Osteoarthritis commonly affects the spine, fingers, thumbs, hips, knees, or toes. Symptoms may include pain that increases with activity, stiffness, restricted motion, tenderness, swelling, enlargement of the joints, or a grinding sensation.
  • Osteoporosis - Progressive disease that causes bones to become brittle, thin, and break easily. Often a natural part of the aging, osteoporosis is related to the loss of bone mass that can be exacerbated by lifestyle and dietary habits. It is most common in women who have gone through menopause, but can also occur in men.
  • Spinal Stenosis - Condition in which the area around the spine, the spinal canal, narrows. Spinal Stenosis can be caused by a herniated disc, excessive bone growth, or thickening of tissue in the canal. All three factors may contribute to the development of this condition that most commonly occurs in the lower back in individuals over the age of 50. Symptoms may include pain, numbness, or weakness in the legs, feet, or buttocks. It is very important that this condition is treated promptly, as it can squeeze the spinal cord and lead to nerve damage and paralysis.
  • Paget's Disease - A chronic disorder causing abnormal bone growth that most commonly affects the pelvis, spine, skull, chest, and legs. Paget’s disease does not often cause symptoms, but when they occur they most commonly consist of bone pain and deformity.
Spinal Deformities
Back pain can also be caused by spinal deformities. Although surgery is sometimes necessary, deformities can often be corrected through non-invasive treatments. Prompt medical treatment is important to halt the progression of such conditions, and the pain and damage they can cause.
  • Scoliosis - Condition in which the spine curves abnormally from side to side, commonly in the shape of an S or C. The spine may also be rotated or twisted, and the condition can vary greatly in severity. Scoliosis is usually detected during childhood, and most commonly affects girls between the ages of 10 and 16.
  • Kyphosis or Scheuermann's Disease - Condition in which one or more of the bones of the spine develop wedge-shaped deformities that cause curvature of the spine, most commonly in the chest region. The curvature may become permanent if it is not corrected in a timely manner. Scheuermann's disease occurs most often in boys between ages 12 and 16.
  • Spondylolisthesis - Condition caused by a deformity or weakening in part of the spine, in which one bone, or vertabra, slips forward over another resulting in a misalignment. This may lead to spinal cord or nerve root compression, meaning that pressure is placed on the nerves and bones in the spine. Symptoms may include back pain, and numbness or weakness in the legs.

If you have injured your back, or are experiencing severe pain, it is important to seek immediate medical attention. 

Injury to the back can result in paralysis, and pain can be related to a variety of serious medical conditions. 

Seek emergency medical care immediately if you have been injured or if your symptoms are severe. In the context of all back problems, early diagnosis and treatment are necessary to prevent further damage and complications.

Once emergency care has been administered, orthopaedic medicine may be able to help immensely with pain symptoms that can arise from a variety of ailments, or linger long after an injury.

Pain can spread to the back in relation to other medical conditions that have no affect directly on the bones, muscles, ligaments or joints of the back.  This phenomenon is called referred pain.  In addition, chronic pain syndrome in the back can be caused by a previous injury or degenerative disease commonly associated with aging.