What is Back Pain ?
October 20, 2012 Back Pain Definition
Back pain (also known as “dorsopathy”) is pain felt in the human back that may come from the muscles, nerves, bones, joints or other structures in the spine. The pain may be constant or intermittent, stay in one place or refer or radiate to other areas. It may be a dull ache, or a sharp or piercing or burning sensation. The pain may be felt in the neck (and might radiate into the arm and hand), in the upper back, or in the low back (and might radiate into the leg or foot), and may include weakness or numbness.It is one of humanity’s most frequent complaints.
In the U.S., acute low back pain (also called lumbago) is the fifth most common reason for all physician visits. About nine out of ten adults experience back pain at some point in their life, and five out of ten working adults have back pain every year .
Back pain is frequently experienced when no underlying anatomical problem is apparent. This pain is thought by some to be caused by tension myositis syndrome.
Upper back pain
Upper back pain, also called middle back pain or thoracic pain, is pain that is felt between the bottom of the neck and and top of the lumbar spine. The upper spine is designed to be very strong and stable to support the weight of the upper body, as well as provide a cavity to allow the heart and lungs to function and protect them.
The most common cause of upper back pain is muscular irritation or other soft tissue (e.g. ligament) problems. These can arise from lack of strength, poor posture, overuse injuries (such as repetitive motion), or a trauma (such as a car accident or sports injury).
Another cause of upper back pain is problems with the joints that connect the vertebrae and the ribs.
A compression fracture of the vertebra can also cause acute and/or chronic pain in the upper back. Especially for women over age 50 with complaints of upper back pain, a vertebral compression fracture due to osteoporosis should always be considered a possibility.
Other, less common causes of upper back pain include a disc herniation, degenerative disc disease, or some type of trauma (such as a fall) that may have fractured the vertebra in the thoracic spine.
Low back pain
Low back pain can be either an acute or chronic disabling condition. It will affect most people at some stage in their life and accounts for more sick leave taken than any other single condition.
An acute lower back injury may be caused by a traumatic event, like a car accident or a fall. It occurs suddenly and its victims will usually be able to pinpoint exactly when it happened. In acute cases, the structures damaged will more than likely be soft tissue like muscles, ligaments and tendons. With a serious accident, vertebral fractures in the lumbar spine may also occur.
Chronic lower back pain usually has a more insidious onset, occurring over a long period of time. Physical causes may include osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, degeneration of the discs between the vertebrae or a spinal disc herniation, or tumors (including cancer).