The term ‘back pain’ is used as an all-encompassing term to describe most instances of aches and discomfort to the lower back and spine. However, there are a few distinctions between the type and cause of each case of back pain. Knowing the difference can help to determine how to treat and find relief for back pain in both the short and long term.
Different Types of Back Pain
There are three main categories for back pain:
Acute pain is short term, with limited duration (less than six months in total). It can result from tissue damage or an injury. The main characteristic of acute pain is immediate, intense pain, followed by an aching sensation after the initial sensation begins to subside. Acute pain can become chronic (long term) under certain conditions, such as:
- Prolonged duration of pain
- muscle atrophy and physical deconditioning due to lack of exercise and physical activity
- mental and emotional triggers including anxiety and depression
Several spine conditions can result in acute back pain, including:
- compression fractures
- muscle spasms
- herniated/ruptured disc
- spinal stenosis
- muscle and ligament strains and tears
Back pain that is persistent and long term (with a duration of anywhere from several months to years) is categorized as chronic pain, which is further broken down into two categories: caused by an identifiable pain generator, such as a recent injury, or with no identifiable generator, where the exact cause of the pain is unknown (for example from an older injury that may have already healed).
Common causes of chronic back pain include:
- degenerative disc disease
- spinal stenosis
When chronic back pain does not respond to conservative treatments like medication and physical therapy, board certified Los Angeles orthopedic surgeons Dr. Sanjay Khurana and Dr. Rojeh Melikian may recommend minimally invasive spine surgery to help treat the pain.
Neuropathic back pain occurs when there is no sign of lingering injury or tissue damage, but the nerves continue to send pain signals. Also known as nerve pain and neuropathy, this type of pain can be chronic, but feels different from injury-related back pain, and typically does not respond to standard medication like anti inflammatories and morphine.
Neuropathic pain is typically described as:
Neuropathy may be treated with nerve block injections. This category is generally associated with problems with peripheral nerves (common in diabetes), but can also result from brain and spinal injuries.
Minimally invasive back surgery Beverly Hills
To learn more about managing back pain, and for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan, or to get a second opinion on a previous diagnosis, contact board certified orthopedic spine surgeons at the Los Angeles Spine Group by calling 310.321.4333 to schedule an appointment today.