Medical Author: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
There are many causes of pain in the back. Symptoms in the low back can be a result of problems in 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 spine.
Common causes of lower back pain include strain injury from athletics or overuse, disc herniation, kidney infection, pinched nerve in the spine, and pregnancy. Less common causes of back pain include infection of the spine, ankylosing spondylitis with lumbosacral and sacroiliac joint disease, compression fracture of a spinal vertebra, disc ligament tear (annular tear), and spinal tumor or cancer in the bone of the spine.
Symptoms that can be associated with low back pain include
- dull ache,
- sharp pain,
- pulsating pain,
- pain with movement of the spine,
- pins and needles sensation,
- muscle spasm,
- sciatica with shooting pain down one or both lower extremities,
- rash, and
- loss of continence of bowel or bladder.
Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.
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Other Causes of Back Pain
- Bleeding Into Pelvis
- Dissection of the Aorta
- Infection of the Spine or Pelvis
- Metastatic Cancer
- Virus Infections
Examples of Medications for Back Pain
- carisoprodol (Soma)
- celecoxib, Celebrex
- codeine (for Pain)
- cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril, Amrix, Fexmid)
- diflunisal, Dolobid
- fenoprofen, Nalfon
- flurbiprofen (Ansaid is a discontinued brand)
- hydrocodone and ibuprofen, Vicoprofen
- hydrocodone/acetaminophen, Vicodin, Vicodin ES, Vicodin HP, Anexsia, Lortab, Lorcet, Lorcet Plus, No
- ibuprofen (Advil, Children's Advil/Motrin, Medipren, Motrin, Nuprin, PediaCare Fever, and others)
- ketoprofen (Discontinued brands: Nexcede, Orudis, Oruvail, Actron)
- nabumetone, Relafen (Discontinued)
- naproxen (Aleve, Anaprox, Naprelan, Naprosyn)
- Nonsteroidal Antiinflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
- OTC Pain Relievers and Fever Reducers
- piroxicam, Feldene
- propoxyphene, Darvon, Darvon-N, Dolene
- rofecoxib, Vioxx
- tolmetin, Tolectin (Discontinued Brand)
- Tramadol: for Pain (Ultram, Ultram ER, Conzip)
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