Back Pain: Definition, Symptoms, Causes, Types and Treatment

It is a group of disorders characterized by mild to moderate pain that arises from the nerves of the muscles or joints associated with the spine.

The pain may be constant or intermittent, localized or diffuse. It may have burning characteristics. If it is connected to the cervical bone, this pain can be transmitted to the extremities with numbness.

Back pain is a technical term that is derived from two words “back” means back or spine and “algia” means pain. So, the exact meaning of back pain is back pain or spine pain .

The back pain covers a group of rheumatic disorders that are characterized by pain and are associated with the spinal muscles, bones, nerves or joints.

Back pain can be defined as a sensation of pain in the back or spine that radiates from the spinal nerves, the spine, the spinal muscles or other anatomical structures associated with the spine.

It is a generic term to define spinal pain or back pain, but this pain can be due to several reasons, such as osteoporosis, kyphosis , lordosis, sciatica , lumbago , sprains, disk slip or spinal injury.

Symptoms of back pain

As discussed above, back pain is associated with pain in the spine, so that its main symptom is pain. But the type of pain varies from person to person. The symptoms also vary according to the underlying cause.

Some common types of pain reported are feeling of throbbing pain, burning pain and intense pain that become unbearable for the patient. Other symptoms include

  • The patient may feel difficult to change their posture.
  • The patient can not bend easily and then stand up straight.
  • He can not even walk properly with pain.
  • If there is a pinched nerve, the patient will face intense pain.
  • The patient finds it difficult to walk without support.

Clinically, the symptoms of back pain can vary from patient to patient depending on the underlying cause.

However, some commonly observed symptoms of back pain are burning, pain, difficulty in changing posture, difficulty in bending the upper body, severe pain in the case of nerve impingement, difficulty in walking without support, etc.


There are several common causes of back and leg pain, for example, in adults younger than 50 years, which include disc herniation and degenerative disc disease, in adults over 50 years old, common causes include osteoarthritis and spinal stenosis.

However, some researchers believe that 90% of back pain is due to a tension syndrome caused by stress and emotional disturbances.

There can be many causes behind back pain and leg pain. In adults under 50 years of age may have herniated disc and degenerative disc diseases as the main cause behind back pain.

Osteoarthritis and spinal stenosis are common causes that are reported in people over 50 years of age. Some scientists after extensive research claim that about 90 percent of back pain is caused by tension syndrome.

Tension syndrome is associated with pain that occurs due to different tensions and emotional disorders. Some rheumatic diseases can also be the main cause of back pain, such as sciatica and low back pain.

Types of back pain

According to the research, the lower regions of the spine are more prone to injuries and accidents. People with back pain can experience different categories of pain.

The pain may adhere to only one part of the spine or travel to other parts, for example, in the case of cervical back pain; the pain may originate in the neck region and diffuse downward and then gradually affect the arms and hands.

Pain has other categories such as mild to moderate pain, severe pain, etc. The pain in the back pain can occur continuously or with minor episodes. In dorsalgia, both muscle and joint pain are involved.

Therefore, it must be verified before starting the treatment that both the muscle and the joint are associated with back pain. If it is an articulation, surgical treatment is recommended, while in muscle pain medications are preferred.

Some examples are:

  • Dorsalgia in multiple sites of the spine.
  • Occipital dorsalgia-atlanto-axial region.
  • Dorsalgia in the cervical region.
  • Dorsalgia in the cervicothoracic region.
  • Dorsalgia in the thoracic region.
  • Dorsalgia in the thoracolumbar region.
  • Back pain in the lower back.
  • Dorsalgia in the lumbosacral region.
  • Sacral dorsalgia and sacrococcygeal region.
  • Back pain not specified.

These are the types of back pain that must be fully understood to treat them perfectly. Each type of back pain has its own specific treatment option.

Dorsalgia cervical

The cervical region is the upper part of the spine. This region is attached to the neck and pain originates in the neck region in this type of back pain.

The basic etiology behind cervical back pain may be an injury to the cervical discs or any degenerative disease of the cervical spine.

If the nerves become involved in a lesion or degeneration of the cervical spine, the intense pain may radiate to the shoulders and then the arms and hands. Cervicalgia is another term to define cervical dorsalgia.

Cervicothoracic dorsalgia

This type of back pain involves two regions of the spine, that is, cervical and thoracic region. Dislocation of the lesion or disc may occur in the middle section of both regions.

Thoracic back pain

In this type of back pain, only the thoracic region of the spine is involved. It is not a common site for back pain because it is located just below the cervical region and the spinal structure is less used in the body. Or we can say that thoracic back pain is a rare type.

Thoracolumbar dorsalgia

This type of back pain affects two regions of the spine, that is, the thoracic spine and the lumbar region of the spine.

The vertebral discs of both regions are affected by an injury. Pain can occur in the upper and lower region of the spine in this type of back pain.

Dorsalgia lumbar

Lumbar back pain involves only the lumbar region of the spine. Low back pain is associated with this. It is the most used section of the spine and is more prone to injuries and muscle tear. It is the most common type of Dorsalgia.

Dorsalgia lumbosacra

Lumbosacral back pain is another type of dorsalgia that affects two regions of the spine, namely the lumbar spine and the sacral region. The sacral region is the lowest region of the spine.


There are several treatment options available for the treatment of back pain, but proper diagnosis of the disease is considered the first step to make it easier to choose the best treatment option available.

As there are different sections of the spine, the treatment will be selected according to the section that causes the pain. The type of treatment is also selected depending on the etiology.

There are two main treatment options, the first is therapeutic treatment and the second is surgical treatment. The selection of the type of treatment depends on the patient’s condition and the underlying cause behind it.

Therapeutic treatment

Therapeutic treatment includes medications such as muscle relaxants, pain relievers, anticonvulsants to relieve nerve pain.

These medications should be used only when your health care provider suggests it. The proper diagnosis before starting the therapeutic treatment is very necessary for the therapeutic treatment to be successful.

It mainly involves medications. The patient will first try to cure him only with the help of over-the-counter medications and if these over-the-counter medications do not work, then the patient should seek medical guidance. Over-the-counter medications involve:

Analgesics : the analgesic category includes non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen with the brand Advil, Motrin, IB etc. or naproxen sodium with Aleve brand. These medications are preferred to treat acute back pain.

The doctor’s instructions are strictly necessary with regard to the dosage of ibuprofen and naproxen sodium because their overdose can cause serious side effects.

If the patient does not get relief from these over-the-counter medications, then he should consult his doctor to obtain prescription non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

Muscle relaxants : muscle relaxant medications are preferred for mild to moderate pain. Muscle relaxants cause dizziness and induce sleep.

Topical analgesics: topical analgesics are commonly used today for back pain due to its easy application. It is creams, ointments and sprays.

Narcotics : narcotics are not available over the counter because your administration needs close supervision. Codeine and hydrocodone are common examples.

Antidepressants : antidepressant medications are used for chronic back pain. A low dose is required to treat pain because increasing the dose may cause dependence. Common examples are tricyclic antidepressants, that is, amitriptyline.

Injections : Injections are the least option in therapeutic treatment. When other forms of medication fail, the doctor prefers the injection of an anti-inflammatory drug, p. Cortisone .

Surgical treatment

Surgical treatment requires an accurate diagnosis. The selection of the type of surgical treatment depends on the etiology.

There are several different types of surgery on the spine to treat a variety of back problems. Some of the most common ways are:

Replacement by artificial disc : this type of surgery has recently been used for the treatment of low back pain caused by a damaged spinal disc. This surgery is now becoming more common.

Discectomy / microdiscectomy : Microdiscectomy is usually used to treat pain (especially one that radiates to the arms or legs) caused by a herniated disc.

Kyphoplasty / vertebroplasty : is a surgical procedure used to treat pain arising from osteoporotic compression fractures.

Stimulation of the spine : in this type of treatment, an electrical device is used to block pain signals in the brain.

Spinal fusion : spinal fusion is used to treat chronic or acute back pain caused by degenerative disc disease, spondylolisthesis or deformities caused by scoliosis.

Other treatment options

Other treatment options include physiotherapy, hot and cold compress massage, hot water bath, spinal exercises, etc.

Lifestyle management

The main objectives in the treatment of back pain are:

  • Achieve maximum reduction of pain intensity as quickly as possible.
  • Restore the patient to their normal activities.
  • Help you deal with residual pain.
  • Help you with the side effects of therapy.
  • Facilitate the passage of the patient through legal and socioeconomic impediments for their recovery.