Chronic Back Pain
While most back pain is caused by a simple muscle strain or injury, it can also be caused by a systemic illness as well. Pain is considered chronic when it is present for more than six months with no real improvement. This type of pain can vary greatly and may be felt as bone, nerve or muscle pain. Back pain can develop anywhere from the neck to the lower spine. The pain can be localized or spread across a wide area and radiate from a central point making it difficult to localize. Often, the condition or injury that triggered the back pain may have healed completely, but the pain may still continue. This happens partly because of a concept called sensitization or an incorrect diagnosis. Sensitization happens when the original injury heals but the pain remains because the nervous system considers it normal to have pain. Of course an incorrect diagnosis can also allow the pain to last much longer than needed.
• Mild to severe pain that exists anywhere on the back
• Radiating pain in the arms or legs
• Associated weakness, numbness or tingling related to the pain
Other diseases that can mimic chronic back pain include:
• Disc degeneration
• Myofascial pain
Treatment will depend on the source of pain which may range from physical therapy to targeted injections.