Understanding different types of back pain

Not all back pain is created equal. However, while back pain varies widely from person to person, there are three general types of back pain. The type of back pain a person is dealing with can greatly inform the treatment process, so it’s important to know the differences. Here’s a rundown on the three different types of back pain.

Acute back pain

This is perhaps the most easily identifiable type of back pain. Acute back pain is what occurs after injury or tissue damage. Acute pain typically comes on quickly and lasts for between three and six months.

If acute pain lasts longer than six months, it begins to be considered chronic pain. Factors that can lead to acute pain turning into chronic pain include the deconditioning that can accompany a lack of exercise and movement, and stress and anxiety over the pain.

Chronic back pain

Chronic back pain is back pain that lasts for more than six months, or past the point where any injury or tissue damage has fully healed.

There are two types of back pain that fall under the chronic back pain heading. The first is chronic back pain with an identifiable pain generator. This is back pain with a cause that can be pinpointed, such as a degenerative spinal condition. The second type of chronic back pain is chronic back pain with no identifiable pain generator. This is a frustrating condition in which there is no identifiable reason for the pain.

Neuropathic back pain

As sufferers of chronic back pain will tell you, chronic pain is not always well understood. Neuropathic back pain is perhaps even less understood.

Neuropathic back pain is what occurs when nerves continue to send pain signals to the brain even when there is no identifiable tissue damage or injury. Neuropathic back pain differs from chronic back pain in how it feels. While chronic back pain is often described as an aching or soreness, neuropathic back pain is often described as sharp, severe, even stabbing. It could also be a burning pain, a cold pain, or it could manifest as weakness, tingling or numbness.

For more information on the three types of back pain, head over here.

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