Back pain is usually associated with the discs, facet joints, nerves, fibres and ligaments of the spine. Muscular pain and spasms are often secondary symptoms. Traditional “passive” therapies such as heat, electrotherapy and massage only offer short-term help, as they do not deal with the primary cause of the pain. If the problem is only muscular then the pain will normally subside within a matter of days.
Discs act as shock absorbers but aging causes them to dry out. Cracks appear and they start to absorb force unevenly, causing bulging and prolapse. It is the resulting pressure on surrounding tissues that causes pain. When there is pressure on the nerves, pain can be felt all the way down to the feet.
Different types and causes of back pain can be identified by examination and for the patient’s history. While most cases do not require sophisticated and expensive investigation, it is of paramount importance to recognize these different patterns of pain in order to initiate proper treatment.