Backache is one of the most common complaints in medicine. Such pain can have various causes, for example, tense muscles or spasms, damage of the intervertebral discs, stenosis of the spinal canal, and arthritis. In the majority of cases reducing the load on the back eliminates the pain within a few weeks. Sometimes warm or cold compresses are helpful and analgesic or anti-inflammatory medications may be necessary. If these methods do not provide relief, we advise you to consult a vertebrologist (spine specialist).
There are several signs that indicate you should seek a consultation by vertebrologist immediately:
- Backache does not go away within a week;
- Pain wakes you up at night;
- Simultaneously with the backache you have difficulty in controlling bowel movements and urinary bladder function;
- Simultaneously with the backache you develop fever, sweating, chills or other signs of infection.
Acute (short-term) backache usually is sharp and stinging. Most frequently it occurs in the lower part of the back. In certain cases back injury can cause acute backache, but most frequently there is no obvious explanation for this pain. Even if initially this pain is strong, it significantly dissipates or completely goes away within 6 to 8 weeks. After understanding the intensity of the pain, our doctor can offer an appropriate treatment (physiotherapy, physical procedures, massage, taping, medications and blockades).
Chronic (long-lasting) backache can be felt as a deep, searing, dull or burning pain in a particular part of the back that can radiate into one or both legs. Performing routine activities can become painful or troublesome. Chronic backache lasts a long time and cannot be stopped with warm and cold compresses or by over-the-counter medications. Chronic backache can have different causes, for example, previous spinal trauma, damage of intervertebral discs, stenosis of the spine canal, deformation of the spine, or rheumatic conditions.
Radiating pain can radiate from various parts of legs both in thighs and calves. Such pain may originate from various spinal conditions irritating or compressing neural structures (spinal cord or nerve rootlets). Radiating pain can occur together with loss of sensation, tingling, muscle weakness or loss of specific reflexes.
Loss of sensation and weakness
Loss of sensation occurs when nerve impulses from the skin do not reach the brain. Specific regions of spinal cord can become impaired, as well as nerves in other body parts – especially arms and legs. Loss of sensation indicates damage in peripheral or central nervous system (spinal cord, brain or peripheral nervous system). If you experience this, you should immediately seek medical assistance.
Weakness occurs when impulses transmitted by the brain do not reach muscles to a sufficient extent. To determine the specific reason, seek medical help.
Stiffness and tension in the back, back of the neck, arms and legs is usually caused by excessive tension in the muscles. In more than 80% of the cases, the reason for backache and pain in the back of the neck is tense, painful muscles that have for years carried physiologically incorrect strain due to various deformations of the spine. However, stiffness and joint pain can sometimes be associated with rheumatic conditions.