Idiopathic back pain is a diagnostic excuse that acknowledges the existence of real pain, yet does not identify a particular or definitive cause. Basically, this means that the patient is suffering, but the doctor has no idea why, or at least will not commit to a definitive verdict. There is no apparent physical or psychological cause for the symptoms, therefore, the patient is left with no diagnosis. While this seems horrible, it may actually be good news for many, as opposed to the wrong diagnosis often given to others.
This discussion focuses on idiopathic back pain conditions and why these conditions actually resolve better than most definitive diagnoses.
Some patients display horrible back pain, but there is no apparent anatomical source for the symptoms. This type of idiopathic pain is rare, since doctors are so proficient at finding some cause on which to blame the pain. Patients that receive this diagnosis originally are very lucky. At least they do not have to waste time and money pursuing treatments for some incorrectly diagnosed scapegoat condition.
Idiopathic pain is also a common diagnosis for patients who have not responded to traditional treatments. Most of these patients originally received a confirmed diagnosis of pain caused by a particular physical cause. After several unsuccessful treatment options, the cause of the pain is often referred to as idiopathic.
This is another way of a doctor saying… ”Oops. I got it wrong. Sorry.”
This is a common example of how many cases of back ache are misdiagnosed and blamed on some innocent and coincidental scapegoat condition which turns out to be incorrect once that condition is successfully resolved, yet pain remains or even worsens.
Ok, so there is no diagnosis, so one would think there is nothing to treat. However, treatment is almost always offered, regardless of finding no physical defect or injury.
This most common variety of treatment for this type of non-specific pain is symptomatic relief. Drugs are the usual form of pain management for these patients. Well, once they develop side effects or addictions from these powerful pills, at least the patient will finally have a diagnosable condition… Drug dependency.
Idiopathic symptoms may be pronounced even when there is an obvious psychological cause for the pain. Remember that most physicians do not have experience or training in recognizing and/or treating psychoemotional pain syndromes. It is a sad fact that the majority of all patients with psychosomatic symptoms will likely go undiagnosed and therefore will never find a cure. Truly a shame. For the few who do achieve a diagnostic theory suspecting internalized stress as a cause or contributor to the symptoms, knowledge therapy may resolve the symptoms.
Remember that you can always seek multiple opinions on any back ache complaint. Just be sure to weigh all diagnostic theories carefully before agreeing to invasive or drastic treatment and consider that "idiopathic" may just be a blessing in disguise.