Back pain is the leading cause of missed work. It is one of the most common complaints and reasons for visits to the doctor. Research suggests that, as common as back pain is, many people live with this problem for years before they seek help. By then, there may be little that can be done to repair existing damage. To achieve a meaningful improvement in back pain, it is necessary to identify the cause. Here, we discuss a few of the most common.
This type of arthritis is related to the normal wear and tear the joints go through over time. Osteoarthritis involves the degradation of the soft tissue and bones that build a joint. People often hear the term osteoarthritis when someone talks about their creaky knees or their painful shoulder. Back pain, however, can also relate to this condition. Every level of the spinal column has a facet joint, a structure that helps the spine bend and flex. As the facet joints wear down, they may have less cartilage to hold the space nerve roots need to exit the spine. Nerve compression through a spinal segment can cause pain along the affected nerve path.
- Spinal Stenosis
The spinal canal is an essential part of the spinal column. It is where the spinal cord is housed. The canal is formed by perfectly aligned vertebrae. When the bones of the spine are aligned, the spinal cord meets no obstacles as it spans the length of the back. The healthy structure allows nerve roots to branch out into the body as needed to innervate organs and muscles. Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal canal that results in compression on one or more of the nerves branching out from the spinal cord. This can cause neck or back pain, as well as symptoms in the arms or legs.
- A Herniated Disc
Intervertebral discs are integral to a functional, comfortable spine. They buffer the force of movements and create space for nerve roots to exit the spine. Discs have a tough, fibrous outer shell and a soft, gelatinous center. The disc structure can be compromised by disease or damage such as an injury. The discs also sometimes wear down as a result of aging. A compromised intervertebral disc can lose water content and herniate. Disc herniation compresses one or more nerve roots inside or outside of the spinal canal, resulting in pain. The lumbar spine (low back) is a common place for this to happen.
Back pain may occur for several reasons. Get to know the source of your pain so you can identify potential strategies for improved comfort. Call our NYC office at 212-606-1004 to schedule your appointment with Dr. Albert.