What is back pain a sign of?

Back pain can be a sign of many conditions that affect the spine and the surrounding areas. While there are many effective treatment options for back pain, it is important to see your doctor for diagnosis and a personalized treatment plan.

The spine is made of multiple parts, including vertebrae, discs, tendons and ligaments as well as supporting muscles. All of these components must work together to perform the basic functions of the spine: to protect the spinal cord and nerve roots and to provide stability and flexibility for the body.

Muscle strains as a cause of back pain

Typically caused by the physiological effects of stress, muscle tension in the back can occur when the spinal muscles remain semi-contracted for an extended period time.

Stress can also affect the nervous system by causing blood vessels to constrict. This can prevent the flow of blood and nutrients to soft tissues throughout the body, including the muscles in the back. It can also allow waste products to accumulate in the muscles, which can cause muscle tension and lead to pain and spasms.

Degenerative spine conditions

Degenerative spine conditions typically result from the natural aging process. Through the years, spinal anatomy goes through natural changes that make it more vulnerable to wearing out due to repetitive motion or injury. The lumbar (lower) spine bears most of the body’s weight and is particularly vulnerable to deterioration and injury.

Spinal components that are prone to damage include the joints and discs, which separate and cushion the vertebrae. These discs naturally dry out and become brittle over time, which can lead to disc herniation and other conditions that cause back pain.

The most common degenerative spine conditions that result in back pain include:

  • Herniated or bulging discs
  • Bone spurs
  • Spinal arthritis
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Degenerative disc disease

Conservative treatments and minimally invasive procedures

If you’re experiencing discomfort and wondering what your back pain is a sign of, it’s important to talk to your doctor. Once a specific diagnosis is made, treatments will usually begin conservatively with a course of nonsurgical treatment that can include the following:

  • Physical therapy
  • Pain medication
  • Weight loss and low-impact exercise
  • Hot/cold compresses
  • Corticosteroid injections

Many patients are able to find lasting pain relief with these methods. However, if they are not effective after several months and you have been diagnosed with a spine condition, you may be asked to consider spine surgery. If you have been recommended to undergo traditional open spine procedures, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn about the benefits of our minimally invasive spine surgery. Our board-certified surgeons+ use muscle-sparing techniques that allow for an outpatient procedure with a lower complication rate compared to traditional open spine surgery.

Find out if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures by contacting Laser Spine Institute and requesting a no-cost review* of your MRI report or CT scan.