8 Conditions That Often Accompany Back Pain
Back pain is hard enough to manage on its own, but experts say that another problem with back pain is that it's often accompanied by other health conditions. Some of these conditions are triggered by the patient's back pain, and in some cases, these health conditions could actually be contributing to his or her pain.
The spine is designed to carry the body's weight and distribute it evenly when the body is at rest. Carrying extra weight forces the spine to take on this extra weight, and this can cause damage and pain.
Some people are born with scoliosis-a curvature of the spine-while other people develop scoliosis as adults. Children who have scoliosis do not typically experience back pain, while adults who have this condition often have back pain as their chief complaint.
Osteoarthritis can affect any joint, including the spine. In the cervical or lumbar spine, it can cause pain in the neck or low back, respectively. Osteophytes, a type of bony "spur," can also form along the arthritic spine and irritate spinal nerves. This can lead to numbness, severe pain and tingling of the affected parts of the body.
Experts say that back pain that's related to stress is due to humans' "fight or flight" instinct. Being under severe stress triggers hormones and adrenaline in the body, which causes both the mind and the body to be in a "hyperalert" state. This can lead to tense muscles that never relax, and this can cause muscle spasms and back pain.
Congenital vertebral fusions are a collection of deformities of the spine. People are born with these conditions, and they can include malformations that affect both the shape and the number of vertebrae in the spine. These congenital spine problems can put pressure on the spinal cord, causing instability and pain in the back.
People who have differences in their leg lengths often suffer from back pain. Experts have found that a difference in leg lengths as little as 5 mm can lead to back pain in the side of the longer leg. Some doctors and chiropractors suggest their patients try putting "lifts" in the shoe on their shorter side to equalize their leg lengths in an effort to ease lower back pain.
Osteoporosis is the thinning of bone tissue and loss of bone density over time. Researchers have found that some cases of back pain are due to osteoporosis-related spine fractures. Compression fractures in the back are the most common type of fracture due to osteoporosis, and they are a frequent source of pain and disability for women over age 50.
People who are living with chronic back pain experience problems with work, sleep, leisure activities and even sex. All of this, when combined with the persistent pain, can contribute to depression. Experts say chronic pain and depression are two of the most common simultaneously occuring medical conditions that health care professionals see in their patients.