Nearly everyone has low back pain at some time during their life.
Back pain is a common symptom that affects nearly everyone at some time in their life. Back pain affects men and women equally. Pain in the low back most commonly develops between the ages of 30 and 50, due both to the aging process and sedentary lifestyles.
The only neurological ailment more common than back pain is…
Headache is the only neurologic (nerve-related) symptom more common than back pain among people in the U.S. In most cases, back pain improves within a few days, but in some cases, it may last longer or become chronic.
The purpose of the spine is to …
The spinal column is the main structure of the back. It supports the weight of the upper body and encases the delicate system of nerves making up the spinal cord. The back itself extends from the neck to the pelvis and is made up of the bones of the spinal column, muscles, and other tissues.
Which structure literally translates to "horse's tail?"
The cauda equina is a part of the spinal cord named because of its appearance (horse's tail). When the nerve roots of the cauda equina are compressed, motor and sensory functions to the lower extremities and bladder are compromised. This is known as cauda equina syndrome, a medical emergency that can cause incontinence and paralysis.
The spine is a structure made up of more than ______________ bones.
The vertebrae is made up of more than 30 bones stacked on one another to form the spinal column. These bones surround and protect the nerve tissue of the spinal cord. The spinal cord begins at the base of the brain and extends to an area just below the rib cage in adults.
Ankylosing spondylitis is a type of _____________ of the spine.
Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a form of arthritis that typically involves the joints of the spinal column and causes back pain. AS pain may be mild or severe, and in severe cases, bones of the spine can fuse together, leading to a loss of flexibility and stiffening of the rib cage. AS can often affect the sacroiliac joint, where the spine meets the pelvic bones.
AS is named from two Greek words. The Greek word ankylos means stiff joint, while spondylo means vertebra.
__________ describes a condition involving painful pressure on a specific nerve in the back.
With sciatica, a herniated or ruptured disc presses against the sciatic nerve that runs from the spinal column down the lower extremity. This causes burning or shock-like pain in the low back and buttocks that may extend down one leg to the foot.
Widespread musculoskeletal pain that can involve the spine is called _________________.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that causes diffuse musculoskeletal pain as well as tiredness. Affected people have multiple "tender points" that are most commonly located in the spine, neck, hips, and shoulders. Fibromyalgia can have many associated symptoms, such as anxiety, sleep problems, and morning stiffness.
Which of these conditions involve a spinal curvature disorder that may cause back pain?
There are different medical terms that can be used to describe curvature of the spine. Lordosis is a backward curving of the spine; kyphosis refers to a "humpback" and describes a forward curvature, and scoliosis refers to a sideways bend in the spine. All of these deformities can cause back pain.
You should see a doctor for back pain if you experience _________________.
Rarely, back pain can signal a serious condition. Always see a doctor if you have back pain that is associated with numbness, weakness, trouble urinating, or unexplained weight loss. You should also see a doctor if you develop back pain after an injury or fall.
Surgery is required to treat most cases of low back pain.
Surgery is not needed for most cases of low back pain. Treatment options include drugs to relieve pain (analgesics) and reduce inflammation, restoration of proper function and strength, and prevention of further injury.
Images provided by:
6. Big Stock Photo
NINDS: Low Back Pain Fact Sheet
NIAMS: Back Pain
Cauda Equina Syndrome Support Group. The Tale of the Horse's Tail. Cauda Equina Syndrome. Dr. Sarah Smith.
American Association of Neurological Surgeons. Cauda Equina. Patient Information.
NIAMS. Fast Facts About Ankylosing Spondylitis. What Is Ankylosing Spondylitis?
NIAMS. Questions and Answers about Scoliosis in Children and Adolescents.
U.S. National Library of Medicine. Genetics Home Reference. Lordosis.
U.S. National Library of Medicine. Genetics Home Reference. Kyphosis.
This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information:
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the MedicineNet Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
© 1996-2017 MedicineNet, Inc. All rights reserved.