Pain, back: Pain felt in the low or upper back. There are many causes of back pain. Pain in the low back can relate to the bony lumbar spine, discs between the vertebrae, ligaments around the spine and discs, spinal cord and nerves, muscles of the low back, internal organs of the pelvis and abdomen, and the skin covering the lumbar area. Pains in the upper back can also be a result of disorders of the aorta, chest tumors, and inflammation of the spine.
Back pain (also known "dorsalgia") is pain felt in the back that usually originates from the muscles, nerves, bones, joints or other structures in the spine.
The pain can often be divided into neck pain, upper back pain, lower back pain or tailbone pain. It may have a sudden onset or can be a chronic pain; it can be constant or intermittent, stay in one place or radiate to other areas. It may be a dull ache, or a sharp or piercing or burning sensation. The pain may be radiate into the arm and hand), in the upper back, or in the low back, (and might radiate into the leg or foot), and may include symptoms other than pain, such as weakness, numbness or tingling.
Back pain is one of humanity's most frequent complaints. In the U.S., acute low back pain (also called lumbago) is the fifth most common reason for physician visits. About nine out of ten adults experience back pain at some point in their life, and five out of ten working adults have back pain every year.
The spine is a complex interconnecting network of nerves, joints, muscles, tendons and ligaments, and all are capable of producing pain. Large nerves that originate in the spine and go to the legs and arms can make pain radiate to the extremities.
Bulging discs also know as a spinal disc herniation (prolapsus disci intervertebralis), informally and misleadingly called a "slipped disc", is a medical condition affecting the spine, in which a tear in the outer, fibrous ring (annulus fibrosus) of an intervertebral disc (discus intervertebralis) allows the soft, central portion (nucleus pulposus) to bulge out. Tears are almost always posterior-ipsilateral in nature due to the presence of the posterior longitudinal ligament in the spinal canal.
This tear in the disc ring may result in the release of inflammatory chemical mediators which may directly cause severe pain, even in the absence of nerve root compression (see "chemical radiculitis" below). This is the rationale for the use of anti-inflammatory treatments for pain associated with disc herniation, protrusion, bulge, or disc tear.
Bulging discs or spinal disc herniationis normally a further development of a previously existing disc protrusion, a condition in which the outermost layers of the annulus fibrosus are still intact, but can bulge when the disc is under pressure.
Headaches are pains in the head caused by dilation of cerebral arteries or muscle contractions or a reaction to drugs
There are four types of headaches: vascular, muscle contraction (tension), traction, and inflammatory. The most common type of vascular headache is migraine. Migraine headaches are usually characterized by severe pain on one or both sides of the head, an upset stomach, and, at times, disturbed vision. Women are more likely than men to have migraine headaches. After migraine, the most common type of vascular headache is the toxic headache produced by fever. Other kinds of vascular headaches include "cluster” headaches, which cause repeated episodes of intense pain, and headaches resulting from high blood pressure. Muscle contraction headaches appear to involve the tightening or tensing of facial and neck muscles. Traction and inflammatory headaches are symptoms of other disorders, ranging from stroke to sinus infection. Like other types of pain, headaches can serve as warning signals of more serious disorders.
Neck pain (or cervicalgia) is a common problem, with two-thirds of the population having neck pain at some point in their lives. Neck pain, although felt in the neck, can be caused by numerous other spinal issues. Neck pain may arise due to muscular tightness in both the neck and upper back, or pinching of the nerves eminating from the cervical vertebrae. Joint disruption in the neck creates pain, as does joint disruption in the upper back.
The head is supported by the lower neck and upper back, and it is these areas that commonly cause neck pain. The top three joints in the neck allow for most movement of your neck and head. The lower joints in the neck and those of the upper back create a supportive structure for your head to sit on. If this support system is affected adversly, then the muscles in the area will tighten, leading to neck pain. Neck pain may also arise from many other physical and emotional health issues.
Pinched Nerve - The term pinched nerve describes one type of damage or injury to a nerve or set of nerves. The injury may result from compression, constriction, or stretching. Symptoms include numbness, "pins and needles" or burning sensations, and pain radiating outward from the injured area. One of the most common examples of a single compressed nerve is the feeling of having a foot or hand "fall asleep." Pinched nerves can sometimes lead to other conditions such as peripheral neuropathy, carpal tunnel syndrome, and tennis elbow. The extent of such injuries may vary from minor, temporary damage to a more permanent condition. Early diagnosis is important to prevent further damage or complications. Pinched nerve is a common cause of on-the-job injury.
A nerve can be 'pinched' at various points along its route, each nerve having its own characteristic 'weak points'. The most common areas of pinching is at the exit of the nerves from the spine ( the foramina). They are pinched, compressed and pulled at these points.
Sciatica (or sciatic neuritis) is a set of symptoms including pain that may be caused by general compression and/or irritation of one of five nerve roots that give rise to the sciatic nerve, or by compression or irritation of the sciatic nerve itself. The pain is felt in the lower back, buttock, and/or various parts of the leg and foot. In addition to pain, which is sometimes severe, there may be numbness, muscular weakness, pins and needles or tingling and difficulty in moving or controlling the leg. Typically, the symptoms are only felt on one side of the body.
Although sciatica is a relatively common form of low back pain and leg pain, the true meaning of the term is often misunderstood. Sciatica is a set of symptoms rather than a diagnosis for what is irritating the root of the nerve, causing the pain. This point is important, because treatment for sciatica or sciatic symptoms will often be different, depending upon the underlying cause of the symptoms.
Scoliosis (from Greek: skolíōsis meaning "crooked") is a medical condition in which a person's spine is curved from side to side, shaped like an "s", and may also be rotated. To adults it can be very painful. It is an abnormal lateral curvature of the spine. On an x-ray, viewed from the rear, the spine of an individual with a typical scoliosis may look more like an "S" or a "C" than a straight line. It is typically classified as congenital (caused by vertebral anomalies present at birth), idiopathic (sub-classified as infantile, juvenile, adolescent, or adult according to when onset occurred) or as neuromuscular, having developed as a secondary symptom of another condition, such as spina bifida, cerebral palsy, spinal muscular atrophy or due to physical trauma.
Scoliosis is abnormal lateral and rotational curvature of the vertebral column. Depending on the etiology, there may be one curve, or primary and secondary compensatory curves; scoliosis may be “fixed” as a result of muscle and/or bone deformity or “mobile” as a result of unequal muscle contraction.
The sacroiliac joint or SI joint is the joint between the sacrum, at the base of the spine and the ilium of the pelvis, which are joined by ligaments. It is a strong, weightbearing synovial joint with irregular elevations and depressions that produce interlocking of the two bones. The human body has two sacroiliac joints: a left and a right joint that often match individually but are highly variable from person to person.
Pain may be caused by sacroiliitis, or an inflammation of the sacroiliac joint(s) or SI joint, a potential cause of low back pain. With sacroiliitis, the individual may experience pain in the low back, buttocks and thighs, and may also have other symptoms of a rheumatic condition such as inflammation in the eyes or psoriasis. Another related condition of the sacroiliac joint is called sacroiliac joint dysfunction (also termed SI joint dysfunction). While SI joint dysfunction may cause low back and sometimes leg pain from inflammation of the sacroiliac joint, some believe that sacroiliac joint dysfunction (also called syndrome) differs from sacroiliitis. The origin of the dysfunction is thought to be a problem with the normal movement of the sacroiliac joints (too much or too little movement in the joint) while sacroilitis (literally inflammation of the sacroiliac joint or SI joint) is usually caused by one of the connective tissue diseases (e.g. ankylosing spondylitis, psoriasis).
The temporomandibular joint is the joint of the jaw and is frequently referred to as TMJ. There are two TMJs, one on either side, working in unison. The name is derived from the two bones which form the joint: the upper temporal bone which is part of the cranium (skull), and the lower jaw bone called the mandible. The unique feature of the TMJs is the articular disc. The disc is composed of fibrocartilagenous tissue (like the firm and flexible elastic cartilage of the ear) which is positioned between the two bones that form the joint. The TMJs are one of the only synovial joints in the human body with an articular disc, another being the sternoclavicular joint. The disc divides each joint into two. The lower joint compartment formed by the mandible and the articular disc is involved in rotational movement (opening and closing movements). The upper joint compartment formed by the articular disk and the temporal bone is involved in translational movements (sliding the lower jaw forward or side to side). The part of the mandible which mates to the under-surface of the disc is the condyle and the part of the temporal bone which mates to the upper surface of the disk is the glenoid (or mandibular) fossa.
Pain or dysfunction of the temporomandibular joint is commonly referred to as "TMJ", when in fact, TMJ is really the name of the joint, and Temporomandibular joint disorder (or dysfunction) is abbreviated TMD. This term is used to refer to a group of problems involving the TMJs and the muscles, tendons, ligaments, blood vessels, and other tissues associated with them. Some practitioners might include the neck, the back and even the whole body in describing problems with the TMJs.
Whiplash is an injury to the neck (the cervical vertebrae) resulting from rapid acceleration or deceleration (as in an automobile accident.Whiplash and whiplash-associated disorders (WAD) represent a range of injuries to the neck caused by or related to a sudden distortion of the neck.
Whiplash is commonly associated with motor vehicle accidents, usually when the vehicle has been hit in the rear; however, the injury can be sustained in many other ways, including falls from bicycles or horses. It stands out as one of the main injuries covered by the car insurers. In UK, 430,000 people made a claim for whiplash in 2007 (75% of the UK's motor insurance claims), accounting for 14% of every driver's premium.
The symptoms of the whiplash reported by sufferers include: pain and aching to the neck and back, referred pain to the shoulders, sensory disturbance (such as pins and needles) to the arms & legs and headaches. Symptoms can appear directly after the injury, but often are not felt until days afterwards. Whiplash is usually confined to the spinal cord, and the most common areas of the spinal cord affected by whiplash are the neck, and the mid-back (middle of the spine).
ITBS is one of the leading causes of lateral knee pain in runners. The iliotibial band is a superficial thickening of tissue on the outside of the thigh, extending from the outside of the pelvis, over the hip and knee, and inserting just below the knee. The band is crucial to stabilizing the knee during running, moving from behind the femur to the front while walking. The continual rubbing of the band over the lateral femoral epicondyle, combined with the repeated flexion and extension of the knee during running may cause the area to become inflamed.
ITBS symptoms range from a stinging sensation just above the knee joint (on the outside of the knee or along the entire length of the iliotibial band) to swelling or thickening of the tissue at the point where the band moves over the femur. The pain may not occur immediately during activity, but may intensify over time, especially as the foot strikes the ground. Pain might persist after activity. Pain may also be present below the knee, where the ITB actually attaches to the tibia.
ITBS can also occur where the IT band connects to the hip, though this is less likely as a sports injury. It commonly occurs during pregnancy, as the connective tissues loosen and the woman gains weight -- each process adding more pressure. ITBS at the hip also commonly affects the elderly. ITBS at the hip is studied less; few treatments are generally known.
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