News just in from our client, Dr. Lucien Alexandre MD PhD about All You Need to Know About Chronic Back Pain.

Chronic back pain is a pervasive issue affecting millions of people worldwide, hindering their daily lives and overall well-being. It is not merely a discomfort but a complex condition that demands attention and understanding.

In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the various aspects of chronic back pain, from understanding its origins to exploring effective management strategies.

What is chronic back pain?

Chronic back pain is a persistent discomfort or pain in the lower, middle, or upper back that lasts for an extended period, typically beyond the expected time for natural healing. 

Unlike acute back pain, which may result from a specific injury or trauma and often resolves within a short period, chronic back pain persists for weeks, months, or even years.

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This type of pain can vary in intensity and may be characterized by dull, aching sensations, sharp or shooting pains, stiffness, or soreness. It can also significantly impact an individual's quality of life, affecting daily activities, work, and overall well-being.

What are the common causes of chronic back pain?

Chronic back pain can result from various underlying causes, and its origins are often complex and multifaceted. Here are some common causes of chronic back pain:

  • Muscle or ligament strain due to overuse or improper use.
  • Herniated disc
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Scoliosis
  • Vertebral fractures
  • Musculoskeletal disorders
  • Infections and inflammatory conditions

Additionally, a sedentary lifestyle can also contribute to the development of chronic back pain. Some examples of this include poor posture, obesity, and lack of regular exercise. 

How to identify the symptoms of chronic back pain?

Recognizing the symptoms of chronic back pain is the first step toward effective management. From persistent aches to shooting pains, understanding the diverse range of symptoms is essential for timely intervention. Here are key indicators that can help you identify chronic back pain:

Duration of pain

Chronic back pain is characterized by its duration, typically lasting over three months. If you experience ongoing pain that extends well beyond the normal healing period, it may indicate a chronic condition.

Consistency and recurrence

Chronic back pain often exhibits a consistent presence, with discomfort persisting over time. The pain may recur or worsen periodically, even without an apparent triggering event.

Intensity and severity

chronic back pain can range from a dull, persistent ache to sharp, stabbing sensations. It may interfere with daily activities and have a significant impact on your overall well-being.

Location of pain

Chronic back pain can occur in various areas of the back, including the lower back (lumbar region), middle back (thoracic region), or upper back (cervical region). It may also radiate to other areas of the body, such as the hips, buttocks, or legs. 

Stiffness and limited range of motion

Individuals with chronic back pain may experience stiffness in the affected area, leading to a reduced range of motion. Difficulty in bending, twisting, or performing specific movements can indicate ongoing back pain.

How is it diagnosed?

If you are experiencing chronic back pain, consulting with a healthcare professional is recommended for a comprehensive evaluation and personalized approach to management. Here is an overview of the steps typically involved in diagnosing chronic back pain:

  • A thorough medical history.
  • A physical examination to assess the range of motion, flexibility, and strength of your back and surrounding muscles.
  • Pain assessment.
  • Diagnostic imaging, such as X-ray, MRI, and CT scan.
  • Blood tests to rule out systemic conditions.
  • Nerve conduction studies
  • Electromyography
  • Diagnostic injections, such as epidural steroid and facet joint injections.

Once a diagnosis is confirmed, your physician will create an appropriate medical plan to effectively relieve your symptoms and address the root cause of your pain. 

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