Topics About Back Pain Types
Are there different types of back pain? Actually, back conditions are often classified and labeled according to how long a person has been suffering, and due to the parts of the body where the pain signal originates. Let's explore the different back pain types and talk about some related topics.
Nociceptive pain and Neuropathic Pain: One of the keys to back medicine is finding the main pain generator. The pain generator is the part source of back pain, specifically the physical structure in the back where something has gone wrong to cause back pain. Often the key to correctly treating back pain is to appropriately identify its source. This sounds like a pretty easy concept to understand as well as treat, given the vast educational background of the doctors that treat us and the amazing technological resources available to them to identify problems in the back. In reality, doctors misidentify patient's pain generators often enough to account for such a high incidence of what is known as Failed Back Surgery Syndrome (FBSS). FBSS occurs when a patient's back surgery fails to provide patients with significant back pain relief.
When trying to identify the main pain generator, doctors try to determine if patients experience symptoms due to damage to the nerves themselves or due to damage to the bones or soft tissues. Neuropathic pain or neuropathy is caused by damage to nerve tissue.
Neuropathic pain may be due to changes to the tissues around it that squeeze the nerves themselves, or due to disease processes which cause a global deterioration of the nerves throughout the body. Because some of the nerves run the length of an entire extremity (arm or leg), the effects of nerve pain may be experienced over large areas. The effects of nerve damage may be experienced along any part of the body supplied by that nerve. Neuropathy is often described as severe shooting pain, burning, and/or numbness or tingling. One of the most common examples of neuropathic pain that low back pain patients complain of is sciatica. Sciatica is a type of lower back pain, with neuropathic symptoms that radiate down the hip, buttock, and leg, along the path of the affected sciatic nerve.
Nociceptive pain is pain that sensed by the nociceptor fibers of the tissues outside of the central and peripheral nerves system. These nociceptor fibers in the muscle, tendons, ligaments, bones, joints, and skin are sensitive to damage, injury, and other degenerative changes to their structures. Nociceptive pain is described as a sore sensation, throbbing, or deep aching. These types of symptoms may occur following a trauma, fall, lumbar sprain or strain, and back surgery. Nociceptive pain is the type of pain that is often associated with arthritis. Nociceptive pain is usually localized to the area immediately surrounding the injury and gets better with healing.
In some cases, these two back pain types do not exist independent of one another. It is thought that in some cases, nociceptive pain may progress into neuropathy. In these types of cases, patients may experience both of these pain types at the same time.
Acute Pain and Chronic Pain: these type types of pain types are classified according to how long it has been since the onset of the patient's symptoms. Acute pain is pain that lasts from a few days to up to several weeks. Chronic pain is pain that lasts three months of more. Some journals, books, and organizations provide an additional category to describe the length of symptom suffering - subacute back pain. Subacute back pain is often described as pain lasting from one to three months.
The reason that a patient's condition is classified so closely to the length of time that he or she has been suffering from symptoms is because of the high likelihood that their acute cases will get better on their own. In this website and elsewhere, we have listen hundreds of possible causes of back pain, with many hundreds more available treatments, including exotic treatment offerings such as Chinese martial arts and Herbology. In reality, most cases involve a sprain of the back muscles or a strain of the spinal ligaments. These sprain and strain type injuries will usually heal on their own, without any necessary medical imaging, medications, or other treatments. As a patient's symptoms continue past 1 month, it becomes more likely that the patient doesn't have an injury that will heal on its own, and the doctor will become more aggressive about diagnosing and treating the patient's condition.
Chronic pain - With chronic pain, a patient continues to have problems past any point where the symptoms would have ceased as soon as a minor injury was able to heal itself. Chronic pain may have started out as a Nociceptive pain condition and developed into one in which the nerves continue to send pain signals even in the absence of tissue damage around the nerves.