Back Pain Questions: How long does it last and how often does it occur?
When you experience back pain symptoms, how long do they last and how often does it occur? Those are two important questions that you will be acted continuously during the diagnostic process. The receptionist will ask you these questions when you are making your appointment. Before the appointment with your doctor, you will be given a questionnaire asking you how long you have had symptoms. The questions will also ask you to be specific as to at what times a day the symptoms start, when the symptoms are their most severe, and at what times these symptoms taper off. The answers that you give to these questions will be important towards diagnosing the cause of your back pain. The answers that you give to these questions will help doctors to classify back pain as well help determine the cause of the condition.
Here are some other questions you will either be asked in your patient questionnaire or directly by the doctor himself/herself.
When did the pain begin? Did it start all at once, or begin gradually? If the pain came on only gradually, then it is more likely that the condition is related to a degenerative problem such as a herniated disc or repetitive use injury. If the pain came on suddenly, such as during an awkward movement, or while lifting/pushing/pulling a heavy object, then it is more likely that the cause of your injury is related to a sprain and strain type injury. Sprain and strain type injuries usually involve a strain of the back muscles or a sprain of the ligaments of the back.
Under what circumstances did the pain begin? Did it coincide with a specific event, like lifting a heavy box? In cases where back pain is associated with heavy lifting, it is likely that the back muscles were overloaded while the lifting movement took place. In cases where these types of injuries happened at work or in your home, you should consider meeting with an occupational therapist or viewing certain diagrams to learn proper lifting techniques.
Is the pain constant, or does it come and go? How often do you experience it? Certain types of conditions will involve symptoms that get progressively worse over the course of a day. Other types of conditions will involve symptoms that decrease over the course of the day, as the muscles in the back begin to loosen, and as the facet joints begin to self-lubricate themselves as you get up and move your body.
How severe is the pain? Typically your doctor will ask you to rate your own pain levels on a scale from zero to ten: zero being on pain at all to ten being the worse possible pain level. The doctor will use this baseline to compare to for later to monitor the progress of your back pain treatments.
Where is the pain located? You will be asked to document or show all the locations where you are experience symptoms, including your arms of legs. Through years of observation and knowledge of the central nervous system, doctors know which spinal nerve roots exit which levels of the spine. Doctors have diagrams of the channels of the body that these spinal nerves pass through, and which organs and skeletal structures that they affect. By pointing out which part of the neck, shoulders, arms or legs you are experience weakness or burning, the doctor will be likely to known which spinal nerves are likely to be compressed.
Back pain is pain that is felt in the back that usually originated from the structures of the spine, or the structures of the spine associated with its movement or protection. These associated structures include the ligaments, tendons, joints, nerves, and muscles. In the majority of cases, the cause of back pain is due to either wear and tear of one or more of these structures, or due to a traumatic event such as an injury. In other less common cases, pain may be due to a disease process or medical illness such as an infection. Due to these changes in the spine or temporary injury, patient may experience the symptom of back pain. This symptom may be isolated around the area of injury, or it may radiate away from the area of injury, especially in cases where the spinal nerves have been constricted due to anatomical changes to the spine. This radiating pain may do down one arm or leg, and have effects as far as the finger and toes. This type of pain where the symptoms radiate down the arms or leg is known as radiculopathy. In conditions of radiculopathy, patients may experience pain related to the compression of the nerve that is travelling down that body part, as well as other associated nerve symptoms. Associated nerve symptoms may include numbness, weakness, and a tingling "pins and needles" feeling in the affected arm or leg.