Back Pain

Back pain is the second most common reason people visit their doctor. In the United States alone, 85 to 90% of people will suffer from back pain at some point in their lives.

Back pain is an acute or chronic pain caused by nerve and muscular problems, degenerative disc disease, or arthritis. The term back pain includes lower back pain, middle back pain, upper back pain or low back pain with sciatica.

The spine consists of three major components: bones, joints, and discs. The back is made up of 24 bones called vertebrae, which lay upon each other like a stack of coins. The body of the vertebrae is the front, main weight-bearing structure. In between each bone is a rubbery cushion known as a disc, which allows movement and rotation of your back. Each vertebra incorporates two sets of facet joints, one facing upward to connect with the vertebra above and the other pair connecting to the vertebra below. The facet joints provide stability and flexibility, allowing the bones to move against each other without getting damaged. In the center of each vertebra is the spinal canal, the opening through which nerves and the spinal cord travel.

The spinal cord can be thought of as a major highway for signals that go between your brain and the rest of your body. These signals are responsible for controlling your entire body, such as moving your arms and legs, and for sensing things around you, such as touch and temperature. All of this is held together by what is known as “soft tissue”.

There are two types of soft tissues. The first are the muscles and tendons which help in movement and lifting. The second are the ligaments which help the vertebrae stay in perfect alignment so that you can move your back pain-free and protect your spine.

Types of Back Pain

Acute back pain is a brief episode of pain that appears suddenly and can last for a few days or weeks. The pain is a normal response of the body to injury or tissue damage. This type of pain gradually recedes as the body heals.
This type of pain lasts between six weeks and three months and depending on its severity, may limit your daily activities.
Chronic, persistent back pain is the most severe type of low back pain that lasts over three months. The biggest struggle of patients that suffer from chronic back pain is the unresponsiveness to initial treatments because it requires a thorough diagnostic examination.

Causes of Back Pain

Poor Posture

Sitting and Standing for prolonged periods of time

Driving long distances

Lifting (heavy, too frequently, improperly)



Obesity, lack of exercise

Injury (car accident, sudden jolts, falls, etc)

Emotional stress

Back Pain Treatments


Doctors mostly prescribed pain medications combined with physical therapy and exercises. Generally, in the past, they would begin with over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol or Paracetamol), Aspirin, and Ibuprofen. If this didn’t work, they would move on to stronger painkillers such as Lyrica, Oxycodone and Hydrocodone. Unfortunately, due to their serious side effects, these types of medications cannot be taken long term.

Physical Therapy

in patients that suffer from neck pain, physical therapy helps restore muscular flexibility, joint mobility, and spine motion, accelerating the stages of healing, and strengthening the muscles.


If the pain continued to persist, the patient got an injection of medicine or steroids directly into the back. Steroids can cause some serious side effects, so such therapy is limited.


Depending on the underlying cause, small number of patients may qualify for surgery. Doctors use surgery as the last option.