Back pain symptoms can vary greatly depending on the actual underlying cause of the pain. Different causes and conditions may present varying symptoms and varying degrees of intensity. However, it is not uncommon for completely different diagnoses to produce strikingly similar symptomatic expressions in multiple patients.
Understanding the nature of your painful symptoms is crucial to helping you achieve an accurate diagnosis. There are often clues in the symptoms which can help the diagnostician firm up the causative theory. It is for this reason that all symptoms should be documented as far as duration, location, severity and effects. It is always important to consult with your doctor regarding any new or changing pain symptoms.
Primary Back Pain Symptoms
Actual pain can be sharp or dull. It may be concentrated in a small or specific area, localized to a region of the back or spread throughout a large area. The pain might be just in the back or may radiate into the neck, face, arms, legs or buttocks. Back pain might be described using any of the following adjectives: sharp, burning, stabbing, hot, annoying, incapacitating, agonizing, mild, severe, shooting, penetrating or dull.
Combination back pain symptoms, such as sciatica, are actually more prevalent than simple back pain which exists by itself.
Do not be surprised if your pain moves around, changes or seems to spread from region to region, as this is a very usual phenomenon reported by many patients.
Back and Spine Symptom Topics
The following essays detail specific symptoms that are often experienced in combination with back pain.
A stiff back is very uncomfortable and can be caused by many possible scenarios, including muscular and skeletal explanations.
Antalgia is a term used to describe the body’s natural compensatory reactions towards painful stimuli.
A back spasm is surely one of the most agonizing and debilitating of all dorsalgia expressions.
Foot drop is also called dorsiflexion deficit. This condition typically occurs due to neurological compression in the lower spine.
Tense back muscles are a usual patient complaint, accompanying all manner of back and neck pain conditions. Tension might be anatomically-motivated or might be a result of internalized stress.
Saddle anesthesia describes a combination of neurological expressions affecting the buttocks, groin, perineum and upper, inner legs.
Back pain incontinence entails dorsal discomfort compounded by dysfunction of bladder and/or bowels.
An overall sore back can be difficult to diagnose, since pain seems to come from all around large regions of the dorsal anatomy.
Spinal shock when walking is a rather common and particularly frightening symptom that affects many patients in the lower back and neck regions.
Back pain with fever is often characteristic of an infectious process.
Intermittent neurogenic claudication may result from lumbar spinal stenosis or other source process.
Pain when turning the head is usually experienced in the neck and upper back. This expression can come from many, many different causations.
Foot cramps might be related to a back pain condition or a non-painful spinal source process.
Inflammation can be a symptom of back pain, but in many cases, it is also ruled to be a cause of back pain.
The neurological consequences of back pain extend far beyond pain, as we detail in the sections below.
Paresthesia Back Pain Symptoms
Pinched nerves often cause a tingling feeling. This is most common in pinched cervical nerves and sciatica. In the case of a pinched cervical nerve root, the patient will often feel tingling in the arms, wrists or hands.
Many patients with sciatica and other lower back pain syndromes experience tingling in the buttocks, legs or feet. This tingling sensation can be mild or severe, but is always disturbing to the patient. A tingling foot might come from partial lumbar nerve impingement, but may also be a result of many other potential causations. Meanwhile, a tingling hand is often linked to a compressive neuropathy in the cervical spinal region.
Numb Back Symptoms
Numbness is a very scary symptom associated with many back pain conditions. The feeling might occur in the actual location of the pain, but more commonly radiates into the arms or legs.
Numbness in the hands or feet is common in a variety of cervical and lumbar conditions and can be a sign of nerve involvement. A numb finger might exist because of a pinched nerve in the neck. A numb leg and/or numb foot may stem from cauda equina compression or some local or systemic sciatic nerve issue. Experiencing a numb arm or hand is possible from cervical or upper thoracic neurological concerns, but other causations might also be responsible.
Weak Back Symptoms
Back muscle weakness is also a relatively common side effect of some back problems. Weakness can strike the back, arms, legs, hands or entire anatomical regions, depending on the location and severity of the underlying condition. Weakness is another frightening side effect of nerve involvement from any number of back pain syndromes.
It must be noted that both weakness and numbness come in subjective and objective expressions. Subjective is not nearly as likely to be sourced by a purely structural cause, while objective is not as likely to be ischemic. However, there are obviously exceptions to this general rule.
A weak shoulder can be a consequence of impingement syndrome, tendonitis, nerve compression or other process. Weakness might extend into the arm or hand, as well. Weak legs are a consequence of many lower back pain problems, but can also occur for many other spinal and muscular reasons.
The Common Bond of the Symptoms of Back Pain
Why do so many different back pain conditions all have similar symptoms? It is no coincidence. Many physical back pain conditions have specific and individual symptoms that distinguish them. General pain symptoms seem to blend into many different diagnosed problems and make the real cause of the pain difficult to pinpoint. It is no wonder that with the similar expressions demonstrated by a variety of theorized causative conditions, misdiagnosis has become a real problem in the dorsopathy sector.
One patient might be diagnosed with degenerative disc disease. Another patient is found to have a herniated disc. A third is identified as a victim of osteoarthritis. A fourth patient is diagnosed with facet syndrome. However, they all have nearly identical symptoms. This coincidence is explained using the common scapegoat of nerve involvement.
It makes little or no sense that so many different diagnoses fit the same clinical profile. It makes no sense that these conditions rarely respond to treatment. It makes no sense that medicine has more treatments now than ever before, yet there is more suffering than ever. It makes no sense that there is a growing epidemic of back pain that is spiraling out of control. It makes no sense, unless…
Ischemic Symptoms of Back Pain
One common cause of many of these misdiagnosed structural conditions could be oxygen deprivation. This process can affect nerve and muscle tissues equally and might be completely impossible to detect through typical diagnostic methods. Some doctors feel that up to 95% of all chronic back pain is ischemic in nature. I agree that many cases seem to have a nonstructural cause, contributor or perpetuating mechanism. I think the percentage might be slightly lower, but still a vast majority.
The theory of nonanatomically-motivated back pain symptoms receives more support each year with many medical associations now advising doctors not to implicate spinal abnormalities as symptom inducers without definitive proof, which they add, rarely exists in research studies.
Resolving Back Pain Symptoms
Looking for a cure for your pain? Of course, we all are! You can try the traditional medical approach. It is still the most reliable place to form a clinical picture of the pain. If that approach does not work, you can try the alternate approaches. Alternative medicine is mainstream now and many care practitioners have earned the same prestige and reputation as medical doctors.
If you still have pain, you might want to consider other non-structural explanations for your pain. Maybe you had a back injury, but it has likely long since healed. Unfortunately, nobody told your brain. You might still have the pain and this is where most Cartesian treatments completely drop the ball.
You will most likely be relegated to a frustrating regimen of therapies that might last a lifetime. The idea of trying knowledge therapy makes a lot more sense. Remember, there are no risks with this choice and no costs inherent to the treatment.
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