Different types of back pain
Worldwide, back pain is one of the most common reasons for missed work and visits to the doctor.
Men and women are equally affected by back pain, which can range in intensity from a dull, constant ache to a sudden, sharp sensation. Pain can begin abruptly as a result of an accident or by lifting something heavy, or it can develop over time due to general wear and tear of the spine caused by ageing. Learn more about common causes of back pain here.
Most back pain is acute or short term, and lasts a few days to a few weeks. However, subacute lower back pain is defined as pain that lasts between four and 12 weeks, and chronic back pain is defined as pain that persists for 12 weeks or longer.
Tamer Sabet, a specialist Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist based in Australia says: “We are consulted for a variety of back pain presentations. In about 85% of cases, back pain is benign in nature with no known structural cause and is typically referred to as “non-specific back pain” or “idiopathic back pain”. Specific conditions such as nerve compromise or irritation are less common.”
The many different types of back pain include:
Upper back pain: Usually caused by muscle strain, an injury to one of the discs in the upper back, being overweight or poor posture. Being stressed can also contribute because tension causes your neck muscles to contract.
Lower back pain: is often caused by muscle or ligament strain, lifting heavy objects or a sudden jerking movement.
Sciatic pain: This can be a pain, numbness or a tingling sensation in your lower back and down one of your legs, caused by irritation or pressure on the sciatic nerve, which runs from the back of your pelvis, through your buttocks, and all the way down both legs.
Sudden pain: Some causes of back pain aren’t straightforward. Damaged organs, tumours and even problems with the reproductive system can be manifested with pain in the back.
Pain or stiffness in the morning: This could be wear and tear of spinal joints, often because of age or over use, and the stiffness gets worse with rest. Inflammation from a disc problem could also be a cause: the pain gets worse overnight, as swelling increases when you are lying still. Learn how to stop waking up with back pain here.
No matter what type of back pain you have, there are many ways to help reduce and limit it. Learn more about our top tips to reduce back pain here.