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What Is Back Pain?
Back pain is one of the most common medical problems, affecting 8 out of 10 people at some point of time during their lives. Back pain can range from a dull, constant ache to a sudden, sharp pain. Acute back pain comes on suddenly and usually lasts from a few days to a few weeks. If back pain is more than 3 months it is called as chronic back pain. Most back pain goes away on its own, though it may take a while. Taking pain relievers and resting can help. However, staying in bed for more than 1 or 2 days can make it worse.
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Types of Back Pain

Back Pain can be categoried in a number of ways:

  • Acute or Chronic
    • Acute is a word used to describe an injury or illness that comes and goes. Acute injuries come on quickly, have very definite symptoms which can be quite intense, and heal in a relatively brief period of time, usually around 6 weeks. Often, and unfortunately, acute injuries to the back or neck can be the precursor to chronic pain.
    • Chronic pain is also referred to as persistent pain. Doctors generally categorize pain as chronic if the same type of pain in the same place has lasted more than between 3 and 6 months.
  • Specific Back Pain or Non-Specific Back Pain
    • Specific back pain is back pain that is attributable to identifiable conditions such as those listed below. According to the National Pain Foundation, less than 15% of diagnosed back pain cases can be attributed to a particular cause.

VERTEBRA: One of a series of irregular bones that form the spine. A vertebra has 2 parts: the vertebral body and the arch; there are 33 vertebrae total: 7 CERVICAL (labeled C1 - C7), 12 THORACIC (labeled T1 - T12), 5 LUMBAR (labeled L1 - L5), 5 FUSED to form the SACRUM (labeled S1 – S5) and 4 COCCYGEAL; feature of a typical vertebra include: body, pedicles, transverse processes, laminae, articular processes, spinous process.

The vertebrae are held together by muscles, tendons and ligaments. Between the vertebrae are intervertebral discs, which act as "shock absorbers" by preventing the vertebrae from hitting one another when you walk, run or jump. The intervertebral discs also allow your spine to twist, bend and extend.

The Spinal Column:  The spinal column (also called the vertebral column) contains and protects the spinal cord and supports the body and head. The spinal column is flexible to allow movement of the body. Spinal Cord: A part of the central nervous system, the spinal cord transmits messages from the brain to other parts of the body and vice versa. The spinal cord begins at the brain and runs down to the level of the second lumbar vertebrae. Three meninges (membranes) cover the spinal cord.

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Surgical Treatments For Back Pain
Only a small minority of patients suffering from low back pain ever require surgery. In the absence of severe or progressive weakness, or signs of cauda equina syndrome, elective surgery is an option for patients with chronic low back pain and significantly impaired quality of life who have not responded to adequate trials of non-surgical approaches. The type of surgery will be decided by the surgeon after a thorough assessment and may decide one of the following types of spine surgery.

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This information is not designed to replace a physician's independent judgment about the appropriateness or risks of a procedure for a given patient.
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