Topics in Back Pain Terminology

The following topics in back pain terminology help doctors to diagnose the cause of back pain and help patients to understand the reasons why patients are suffering from their symptoms. Here are some of the most common back pain terms that you would see in an orthopedic website or in the glossary section of a book.

Analgesic: An analgesic is a medication, herb, or natural substances that are used to relieve pain. In human patients, inflammation is an adaptive response by the body to remove pathogens, toxins, or damaged tissues from a site of injury. These tissues may become damaged due to a traumatic event, a disease process, or wear and tear types of arthritis. In response to tissue damage, the body's immune system sends increased amounts of blood to the sites of damage. The increased blood flow to the site of injury is designed to immobilize the body against further injury (swelling), or it may be designed to accelerate the healing process by which injured tissues are replaced by new and healthy tissues. Though the body would not have the capacity to heal itself without this immune response, on the byproducts of the inflammation process is the symptom of pain. There are a couple of reasons why people would want to inhibit the inflammatory response of the body. A prolonged or aggressive inflammatory response by the body may cause irreversible destruction to the body's joints or other connective tissues. There are also cases that involve degenerative changes to the synovial joints that aren't going to get better no matter how much extra blood flow is sent to that part of the body. When the joints aren't going to heal themselves no matter what the body's response is to them, the only effect that the inflammatory process will have on the body is causing it pain.

Some of the most commonly prescribed analgesics that are used to reduce either pain or inflammation include Aspirin, Cox-2 inhibitors opiates, morphinomimetics, and Flupirtine.

All of the medications that are listed are above are associated with minor to no side effects when taken in their prescribed amounts in the short term. The risks of complications increase greatly for all of these medications when they are used for long-term use.

For patients seeking pain relief who want to use only natural products, there may be many available options. Many herbs and foods contain elements and chemicals that have the same effects as pharmaceutical medications, in terms of their ability to control inflammation. Some foods/herbs that act as natural anti-inflammatories include Papain, Tumeric extract, L-glutathione, Bromelain, and Proteolytic enzymes. Some foods and supplements that contain proteolytic enzymes include papaya, pineapple, and kiwi fruits.

Ankylosing spondylitis (AS): Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a form of arthritis which mainly affects the spine and sacroiliac (SI) joints. The SI joints attach the sacrum to the Ilium of the pelvis. As this condition becomes more advanced, the individual segments of the spine will begin to fuse together, causing stiffness in pain to the affected levels of the spine. AS is one of several inflammatory forms of arthritis that are associated with a specific gene known as HLA-B27. The majority of patients who have been diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis test positive for the Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) B27 antigen.

Treatment options for ankylosing spondylitis include medication, surgery, and physical therapy.

Like other forms of inflammatory systemic arthritis conditions, ankylosing spondylitis is a condition that will alternate between periods of remission and periods of outbreaks whereby the body initiates a strong aggressive immune response. During these outbreaks, the body's aggressive immune response may result in tissue destruction and fusion of the joints of the spine, as well as the SI joints. For these outbreaks, medications may be taken to inhibit the body's inflammatory response. Medications that are prescribed to inhibit the inflammatory response of the body includes NSAIDs (e.g. indomethacin,diclofenac, phenylbutazone), disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDS), tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF ?) blocker (antagonists), and Anti-interleukin-6 inhibitors.

Surgery: Ideally, the cause of the patient's spine symptoms are identified early, and the disease fighting drugs are able to get the outbreaks under control when they do occur. If these medications are sufficient to keep the outbreaks of inflammation under control, the joints may be saved and the person will experience minimal pain or damage to their body. In some cases, though, the damage caused by outbreaks will be severe enough to require joint replacement surgery. Joint replacements may be necessary when AS causes profound damage to the hips and knees. Neck surgery may be performed to correct a severe downward curvature in the cervical spine (neck).

In cases such as ankylosing spondylitis which involve global damage to several joints, movement therapies and physical therapy may be beneficial to prevent the stiffening and fusion of the joints. Low impact, high resistance exercises such as swimming and pool exercises may provide the type of movements that your body needs without putting too much stress on the affected joints.