Top 3 Things About Back Pain

My role as a private rheumatologist and chronic pain specialist gives me the opportunity to treat patients suffering from a variety of common conditions. For example, back pain is something I see in my London office quite frequently. Indeed, back pain is one of the most commonly reported pain-related issues in the modern world.

I routinely recommend seeing a private doctor for osteoarthritis pain. Because back pain can be related to osteoarthritis, it is also a good idea to see a specialist if you are suffering from chronic back pain that doesn’t seem to get any better. In the meantime, this post addresses the top three things you should know about this type of pain.

1. Most Cases Are Non-Specific

In the medical profession, we deal with certain conditions classified as non-specific. This means that there is no obvious or mechanical cause of a person’s pain. Back pain is often non-specific. We can run all kinds of tests – including taking x-rays and doing MRIs – and not find a single abnormality.

Does this mean that non-specific back pain is not real? Absolutely not. Just because we cannot find a known cause does not mean the patient isn’t experiencing real discomfort. Back pain is so often considered non-specific because there are many possible causes we cannot definitively prove.

Non-specific back pain can be caused by:

  • sprained muscles or pulled ligaments
  • poor posture or improper lifting practices
  • undue stress and fatigue.

As you see, we cannot run tests for these sorts of things. We know there is a cause for the patient’s back pain, but we cannot test for and prove it.

2. Most Cases Are Not Serious

Along with being non-specific, most cases are also not serious. Most will resolve themselves over time with a combination of exercise and caution. We recommend exercise to strengthen back muscles and keep the joints of the spine moving. We recommend caution if we suspect that bending or lifting incorrectly is the culprit.

We used to think that rest was the best medicine for non-specific back pain. Medical science has since learned otherwise. Studies have shown that people who get regular exercise despite suffering from non-specific back pain recover more quickly.

3. There Are Known Causes

Though most back pain is considered non-specific, medical science does know of certain things that can cause back pain. Osteoarthritis is one of them. As you might know, osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease that affects the joints.

The spine is made up of multiple bones joined end-to-end with lubricating discs in between. Thus, it can be victimised by osteoarthritis just like the knees and hands. It is common for osteoarthritis to appear in the lower back and neck.

Other known causes of chronic back pain include:

  • sciatica – irritation of a nerve in the lower back
  • prolapsed disc – a disc slips out of place and presses on a nerve
  • ankylosing spondylitis – inflammation in the joints of the spine
  • spondylolisthesis – one of the bones of the spine slipping out of place.

Each of these causes, along with osteoarthritis, can be treated. In some cases, medications and exercise are enough to solve the problem. In other cases, surgery is necessary. Only a qualified physician can make that call.

I am an arthritis specialist with years of experience working with patients suffering from all sorts of pain. I am here to help. If you live in the London area, consider calling my office and making an appointment. I can help you get to the root of your back pain.

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