There are several causes of back pain, some are natural – arthritis due to age – while others are medical. Therefore, it is important to know the exact cause of your back pain before deciding on the next step.
For example, if you have mechanical back pain, you may not necessarily need medical intervention. In fact, most mechanical back pain tends to go away on its own. However, in cases like spondylolisthesis, surgery may be needed to correct the complication.
Then how would you know if your back pain was due to aging or mere mechanical back pain? It all depends on the writings on the wall. These signs indicate the root cause of your back pain. That way, you can take actionable steps that will fix the problem right away.
Signs of mechanical back pain
Mechanical back pain is caused by trauma or stress to the back, either from poor posture, muscle or ligament strain, or from improper lifting of heavy objects.
The tell-tale signs of mechanical back pain include:
- Pain radiating to the buttocks and thighs accompanied by cramps.
- Pain is more noticeable in activities that make your back work, such as lifting heavy objects.
Signs of sciatica back pain
Sciatica, which is basically the pain we feel from pressure on the sciatic nerve, can be caused by either stenosis, disc degeneration, spondylolisthesis, or herniated disc.
The general signs of sciatica are:
- Insensitivity or numbness in the lumbar spine (lower back), buttocks, and feet.
- Severe back pain radiating from the lower back to the legs.
- Tingly feeling in the legs or feet.
- Bowel loss and sometimes bladder control.
More specifically, stenosis comes with cramps in the legs, a strong feeling in the legs that could make it difficult to move, and the pain that gets worse with activity. People with stricture also find that arching or bending forward relieves them of the pain.
If you have symptoms of disc degeneration, the pain worsens when you sit, bend over, twist, or lift things. It tends to get better when you run, move, or lie down, but comes back when you stand in place for a long time.
During spondylolisthesis, you will feel a stiffness in your back and legs, which is accompanied by tenderness in these regions. Tight hamstrings and stiff glutes are also tell-tale signs of spondylolisthesis.
In addition to the general symptoms of sciatica, you may experience arm pain, leg pain, and weakness with herniated disc back pain.
Signs of spondylosis back pain
Cervical spondylosis is more or less arthritis of the back. Symptoms of cervical spondylosis include:
- Struggles with walking and general coordination.
- Inability to control bowel movements.
- Tingly feeling in arms, legs and feet, accompanied by weakness.
Ankylosing spondylitis, on the other hand, is an inflammatory disease that affects the spine. Symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis include:
- Neck pain
- Chronic lower back pain, especially in the morning or after long periods of inactivity.
- Stiffness in the hips and lumbar spine.
Back pain from cancer
According to experts, severe back pain can indicate an early symptom of spinal cancer, although it’s important to remember that this isn’t very common. For the most part, spinal cancer usually occurs when cancer spreads to the spinal cord from other regions.
Back pain associated with spinal cancer shows the following symptoms:
- Weakness in arms and legs
- Back pain that spreads towards the arms and legs
- Noticeable change in bowel movements
Pain that is predominantly in the back, especially if it is temporary or of short duration, is almost always benign. Still, it’s best to look out for the red flags, like those highlighted above, to know if conservative treatment or surgery is most applicable. After noticing the red flags, the next thing you need to do is the treatment.
There are several ways to treat back pain. But if you are looking for home remedies that will safely get rid of your back pain, check out this great blog on Back Pain by Jayamove Physio Founder and Arkash Jayanandan.