Have you ever felt any kind of back pain? According to the World Health Organization, 80% of people will have an episode of back pain at some point in their lives. Although they are common, the reasons for these pains are quite diverse, which requires even more attention to reach the correct diagnosis.
Although many people use analgesics and anti-inflammatory drugs to relieve pain, it is important to investigate the cause, especially when attacks are recurrent. Pain indicates that something is not right with your body, and you need to act on the cause of the problem. Check below some changes that may be the reason for the pain:
Muscle Contractures: When a person injures or strains muscles that support the spine or are related to adjacent limbs, this can cause back pain. These muscle injuries can occur due to several factors, such as poor posture, muscle tension (caused by stress, for example), repetitive movement, improperly performed physical exercises, or strokes.
Joint injuries: Over time, it is natural that some type of wear occurs in our body’s joints. People who perform physical activities without adequate muscle preparation are also subject to these types of injuries. When this wear reaches the point of causing a deformity at the site, the process is known as osteoarthritis and can also cause back pain.
Degeneration or displacement of spinal discs: The spine has discs between the vertebrae that allow it to move and help cushion impacts. However, factors such as genetics, repetitive movements, poor posture, strength imbalance, and aging can cause these discs to degenerate. Wearing or dislodging these discs can also pinch nerves, causing back pain.
Fractures: Bones in the spine can also cause back pain when they are fractured. The main causes for fractures of these bones are trauma, direct and indirect, and osteoporosis.
Organ Problems: Some organs can also cause back pain if they aren’t working properly. This is the case with the lungs, kidneys, and even the pancreas. In these cases, back pain is usually not the only symptom that indicates that something is not right.
As there is a wide variety of possible causes, back pain diagnosis must be done with great caution. To start the investigation, talk to a trusted physician, who may be a general practitioner, or from a specific area such as an orthopedist, neurosurgeon, or rheumatologist. In this conversation, it is important to provide as much information as possible, such as where the pain is, how it manifests, at what time, as well as its association with other symptoms. With these data, he will be able to indicate the performance of complementary exams to detect the cause.
The main diagnostic imaging tests in the investigation of back pain are:
X-ray: this exam mainly allows visualizing the vertebrae, detecting whether or not there are signs of arthrosis, fractures, bone lesions, and other types of changes that may indicate the cause of pain.
Computed tomography: more detailed than radiography, tomography allows you to analyze the spine in three dimensions. With this exam, it is possible to visualize the spinal canal, verify the involvement of specific portions of the vertebrae, such as facet joints, identify the presence of herniated discs, in addition to examining a series of other possible associated alterations. This exam is usually requested in special cases that require further clarification or when the treatment has not been effective.
Magnetic resonance imaging: allows you to visualize structures in more detail, especially the “non-bone” ones, it is capable of showing in detail alterations in the spinal cord and nerve roots, intervertebral disc, ligaments, tendons, and adjacent musculature. It is a complete exam for the study of the spine and allows a highly effective diagnosis of most of the causes of back pain.