What if you couldn’t get out of bed because of the pain in your back? Back pain affects almost everyone at some point in their lives, but when it starts to affect your daily life, it can get very scary.
Not only that, but back pain can be difficult to diagnose and can come from one of many sources. There are over 120 bones in the human spine and over 34 joints, so knowing what is wrong can be difficult.
There are many different types of back pain, and it can be difficult to know which one you have. This guide will help you identify the different types of back pain and what might be causing them so you know what to do when it happens to you.
Different Types of Back Pain: Psychogenic
Psychogenic back pain is a real thing. It is characterized by pain that is caused by psychological factors. These can include stress, anxiety, depression, or even the way you think about pain. The pain can be real and disabled, or it can be more of an annoyance.
One approach to getting rid of back pain is to see a counselor or psychologist who can help you work through the psychological factors that are causing the pain. Also, you may try relaxation techniques, exercises, and different ways of thinking about pain. These can help you lessen the pain and the impact it has on your life.
Mechanical Back Pain
Mechanical back pain is the most common type of back pain. It is usually caused by a problem with the muscles, bones, or joints in the back. Mechanical back pain can be acute (short-term) or chronic (long-term).
There are many different causes of mechanical back pain, but the most common is a muscle or ligament strain. This type of back pain is usually the result of lifting something improperly or not using proper back support when lifting.
Other causes include a herniated disc, degenerative disc disease, and spinal stenosis. Back pain treatment often includes rest, ice, and heat therapy, as well as over-the-counter or prescription pain medication.
In some cases, physical therapy may be necessary. If the pain is severe or does not improve with conservative treatment, surgery may be an option.
Radicular Back Pain
Radicular is a back pain that radiates from the spine down the arms or legs. This type of back pain is often caused by herniated disks, spinal stenosis, or pinched nerves. Radicular back pain can be very debilitating, as it can make it difficult to move or even stand.
While there are a variety of treatments available to find here, such as physical therapy, medication, and surgery, it is often best to first try conservative measures, such as rest and ice/heat therapy.
Neuropathic (nerve) pain is pain that occurs when there is damage to the nervous system. This type of pain can be caused by diabetes, shingles, spinal cord injury, and other conditions.
Neuropathic pain is often described as a burning, shooting, or electrical sensation. It can be very debilitating and sometimes difficult to treat.
When to See a Doctor for Different Types of Back Pain
There are many different types of back pain, and it can be difficult to know when to see a doctor. However, if you are experiencing severe pain or if the pain is accompanied by other symptoms, it is important to see a doctor. Only a medical professional can diagnose the cause of your pain and recommend the best treatment.
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Wayne Probert is a senior reporter at Zobuz, covering state and national politics, and he is a grantee with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. Before joining Zobuz, he worked as a freelance journalist in Kentucky, having been published by dozens of outlets including NPR, the Center for Media.