What causes most back pain?
The vast majority of back pain is caused by straining or irritating the soft tissue (muscles and tendons) in the back. Improper standing or sleeping posture, improper lifting or acute injury may cause back pain. Muscle spasms in the back may also cause back pain. Spasms, in particular, may cause debilitating pain that is variable and inconsistent – ranging from being barely sensible to excruciating in nature. The tendons and ligaments of the spine may also become inflamed or irritated as a result of overuse or injury.
What are some signs or symptoms of back pain?
Back pain associated with strain, inflammation or spasm of the soft tissue may feature:
- Debilitating pain that is only relieved through rest
- Dull achiness
- Shooting or radiating pain up and down the spine
- Pain that is unpredictable and “flares up” in waves or at certain times of the day
- Pain that is aggravated even during basic movement or sleep
How is back pain treated?
Strengthening and treating the affected muscles or tendons helps relieve symptoms of back pain. Physical therapy treatment that includes strengthening exercises, electric muscle stimulation and alternating applications of heat and ice may also relieve pain.
Counterintuitive to common logic, extended periods of rest and inactivity do not typically help resolve chronic back pain. It is important to make the muscles stronger and remain active. Anti-inflammatory and relaxant medications may also help relieve symptoms. Surgery is generally not necessary to treat pain in the back that is not associated with spinal disease or injury.