Many patients from Bangor, Llandudno and Conwy often ask what is the Cause of Back Pain?

Back pain, conditions or symptoms?

Which is it you may ask? Previously before we knew more it was termed ‘Lumbago’.  Now thankfully we do know more. Back pain conditions or symptoms are what people are ‘Googling’ for when it comes to back pain information in the Gwynedd, Conwy and Anglesey regions. Do you want to know more about back pain – condition or symptoms?

Back pain can occur in different places on your spine and can be displayed in a variety of symptoms. You could be describing back pain when you have actually have neckpain, upper back pain, lower back pain or even pain around the shoulder blades. So depending on where your back pain is, the condition causing back pain can vary and so can the symptoms of back pain. However, different back pains do share common causes and the symptoms you could feel with the back pain. So today we will look at some of the shared causes and symptoms of the different areas of back pain causing people to search for “back pain condition or symptom”?

Back Pain, more Causes and Symptoms

As mentioned earlier, back pain is usually regarded as the area from your neck to your lower back or coccyx area. So what are some of the most common causes of back pain for all these areas you may ask? Well let’s start with the first common shared cause of back pain.

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Back Pain - Whats going on?

Muscle Spasm or Strain

Did you know that you have roughly 56 different muscles in your back? So that means there are a lot of different muscles that you could strain or spasm. Muscles spasms are different to muscle strains. A muscle spasm is by definition “a sudden, involuntary contraction of a muscle or group of muscles”. This is different from a muscle strain, which is by definition “to injure or impair a muscle by overuse or overexertion”.

Muscle Spasm

Muscle spasms can come from two sources. A lack of things like magnesium or calcium in your system. You may experience a nocturnal or night leg cramp in your calf. The spasm in the muscle occurred not from overloading the muscle tissue, but because of a chemical imbalance in your muscles. However, the majority of muscular spasms occur due to over-active or under-active electrical signals from your neurological system. This causes the proteins chains that make up muscles to contract incorrectly creating a spasm.

Muscle Strain

You would get a muscle strain if you tried to lift a weight too heavy for your muscles and caused a micro-tear in the muscle. This physical trauma to the muscle would then be regarded as a muscle strain, which too could feel like a spasm. This is what our professionals at The North Wales Spine Clinic would term a true pulled muscle in your back. You get different grades of muscle strains. They are listed as Grade 1, Grade 2 and Grade 3 muscle strains. Basically it means a muscle strain is mild, moderate or severe. The severe type would be when you actually rupture the muscle all the way through or nearly all the way through, ouch.

Clinical note: when tissue is damaged in the human body the site of injury heals with a substandard form of tissue known as ‘scar tissue’.  This is then often more susceptible to damage in the future.

So is it a Spasm or a Sprain?

So you could, for example, have a pulled a muscle (strained a muscle) in your neck, or upper back & shoulder blade or down in your lower back and hip area. This would happen when you put too much force through the different muscles causing muscle tears. This is not actually a common cause of back pain. It is more likely you have a muscle spasm caused by irritating a nerve in your back, which is forcing your body to create a protective muscle spasm to prevent further nerve irritation.

To know which one you have call The North Wales Spine Clinic and one of our back specialists will examine you. In severe cases we may refer you for an ultrasound scan to assess the muscle fibres for any tears. The easiest way to ascertain what has happened is by how the pain started. If the pain was slow and limiting your movement then a muscle spasm is the more likely cause. If it was sudden with extreme pain or visible bruising on the skin in the area of pain a muscle strain is likely. Pain is the back pain symptom that will occur with both a muscle spasm and muscle strain.

Disc Herniation or Bulge

An intervertebral disc is the material between each vertebra in your spine. There is an exception where between the skull, C1 and C2 the top two vertebrae at the top of your neck where there is no disc. A disc herniation is most likely to occur in the neck or cervical spine and the lower back or lumbar spine. A disc herniation between your shoulder blades is highly unlikely due to the limited movement in the area from the rib cage. That is why you will more likely hear people talk about their C6-7 or C5-6 disc in the neck or a L4-5 or L5-S1 disc herniation in their lower back. These are the spinal disc levels that are most likely to fail and herniate or bulge out causing disc pain in the spine.

The cause of a disc herniation or bulge is most likely insidious or slow occurring of no particular event. This means through years of poor posture or poor movement patterns in your neck or lower back are the most likely cause. Lifting a weight and suddenly herniating a healthy disc can happen but is not common. Usually a healthy spinal disc would fail only in high impact traumas like a motorcar accident or sport accident like falling and compressing your self.

Disc herniations or bulge symptoms would again share the pain symptom. Remember pain is only a symptom not a cause. If the disc pain is from a C5-6-7 disc herniation you could have local neck pain and lack of movement and even severe pain around the shoulder blade and into the upper arm and forearm. If the disc pain is from a L4-5-S1 disc herniation you again are likely to have left or right lower back ache and pain down the back of your thigh into your leg down to your calf. This is because disc herniations and bulges cause back pain and sciatica.

Meniscoid Entrapment

What is a meniscoid you may ask? Meniscoids, are also called synovial folds, and are tiny anatomic structures within the facet (zygapophyseal) joints. A facet joint is the joint either side of a vertebrae where they join together and from where the move. In some people who wake up and crick their necks or give themselves a wryneck a meniscoid entrapment may be the cause of the neck pain.

The pain from a meniscoid entrapment will either be localized or it can refer into the shoulder or hip area. There are meniscoid’s from your neck bones to your lower back bones. It is more likely meniscoid entrapments are a problem in the neck area where there is more movement than the lower back.

The clinicians at The North Wales Spine Clinic are recognised leaders in their field and are committed to giving patients a comprehensive diagnosis, a logical explanation and developing individualised treatments. Our patients travel from Colwyn Bay, Llandudno, Conwy, Penmaenmawr, Llanfairfechan, Bangor, Caernarfon and Anglesey. Treatments involve Chiropractic, Acupuncture, Massage, Neuro-muscular and Core Stabilisation, OPT (Optimum Performance Training) exercise programmes, Osteopathy and Physiotherapy techniques. Our clinic embraces a cooperative treatment approach including other healthcare professionals with the aim of better results for patients.

If your suffering from back pain or neck pain, want a definitive diagnosis and live locally in areas such as Colwyn Bay, Llandudno, Conwy, Penmaenmawr, Llanfairfechan, Bangor, Menai Bridge or Caernarfon, contact us at The North Wales Spine Clinic on 01492 621380.

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