What You Need to Know About Back Problems
Back pain doesn’t only occur because of improper heavy lifting or sleeping on a non-supportive mattress. There are a myriad of potential causes – and not all of them even originate in the back. If you’re experiencing back pain, either suddenly or for a prolonged period of time, it’s important to see a medical professional, such as one of the doctors at Palmetto Bone & Joint, for an accurate diagnosis.
Acute back pain often is associated with injuries – such as from a fall, stress or strain, sports injury or a car accident. Sprains, strains and spasms are common. But it’s important to have your symptoms evaluated to check for more serious injuries such as a herniated, or “slipped” disc, or a fracture, especially if your pain is severe.
Less serious back injuries may heal on their own in a matter of days or weeks. But that doesn’t mean you should suffer during that time. A doctor can evaluate your situation and offer guidance and, if needed, medication or other measures to help you feel more comfortable while the injury heals. More serious injuries may require more serious interventions.
Sometimes back problems can be exacerbated or caused by conditions of the spine. You may have a congenital condition, meaning you were born with it, that you may not even be aware of. Examples include scoliosis or spina bifida. Or you may have a degenerative disease, such as arthritis or osteoporosis, that has developed and worsened over time.
There are also a number of conditions that affect the nerves and tissues around the spinal cord that can cause discomfort in your back. Sciatica is one example. It affects the sciatic nerve, which travels down through the back of the leg. Sciatica can cause severe back pain that continues through the buttocks and down the leg. Another example is spinal stenosis, in which the spinal column narrows, putting pressure on the spinal cord and nerves – and which can lead to sciatica.
Non-Spinal Causes of Back Pain
Because the back is such a central structure of the body, there are situations in which you may feel discomfort in your back that originates elsewhere in the body. Some examples include:
• Kidney stones or infection – You may feel sharp pain in your lower back, especially on one side.
• Endometriosis – This is a condition of the uterus.
• Fibromyalgia – This chronic condition causes widespread muscle pain and fatigue throughout the body.
• Tumors – Tumorous growths can put pressure on the spine. It’s crucial to have these evaluated to screen for cancer.
• Pregnancy – Back pain is common later in pregnancy and generally resolves after birth. A doctor can help expectant mothers manage discomfort while it persists.
Diagnosing the cause of your back pain is just the first step toward helping you feel better. At Palmetto Bone & Joint, our spinal experts have years of experience in developing effective treatment plans that help patients get their lives back.
Our spine surgeon, Dr. Samuel Davis, received his training at Duke and Emory universities and has been at the leading edge of spine research. He specializes in less invasive advanced procedures of the cervical, thoracic and lumbar vertebrae. Depending on your situation, treatment may include medication, rehabilitation, or surgery.