Back pain can be a very annoying complaint and for those who experience it, may feel debilitating too. While back pain can be of acute or chronic type, the nature of the pain also varies. Sometimes, back pain can be of acute and severe type; but back pain can also be sharp shooting pain with burning sensation.
Burning back pain can be experienced with almost any cause of back pain, as the pain sensation varies in different individuals. This may be associated with numbness and tingling sensation in the back or limbs. Most of the problems causing middle or lower back pain can result in a burning sensation and make it unbearable.1
What Can Cause Burning Back Pain?
Here are some of the causes of burning back pain.
Burning Back Pain Caused due to Spinal Problems
Lumbar spine is more vulnerable to degeneration, injuries and other disorders. The risk may be particularly more in those, involved in lifting heavy weights, sports, certain professions and those with a history of previous injury or surgery.
The intervertebral disc in between the two vertebrae can get damaged due to degeneration or injury and can bulge out. This is called disc herniation and can even proceed to disc prolapse. Disc degeneration, rupture, herniation or prolapse can cause back pain. This causes the nerves of the spine to get compressed, leading to burning sensation. The exact location of burning back pain may depend on the location of the disc affected.
Burning Back Pain Caused due to Skeletal Defects
Skeletal or bony deformities can cause changes in the body posture and eventually lead to back pain. Changes in the normal curvature of the spine can be seen in deformities like scoliosis, lordosis and tend to cause changes in the musculature or compression of nerves resulting in burning back pain.2
Burning Back Pain Caused due to Muscle Spasms and Strains
Sudden muscles spasm or strain can result from overstretching, tearing or injuries to the muscles. This can occur during lifting heavy objects or sudden rotating movements that strain the muscle beyond their range. It can present with a locking sensation and you may feel as if back is giving away with a sharp burning back pain in the strained muscle region.
Sometimes, repeated strain or long lasting injuries can make the back muscles weak. It makes them more vulnerable to spasms with the least jerky movements, traveling or certain activities. This can cause muscle to remain in spasm and cause burning pain in the back after any physical exertion.
Burning Back Pain Caused due to Injuries
Injuries to muscles, ligaments, tendons or any soft tissue supporting the spine can result in severe burning pain in the back. Pain may be acute after a noticeable injury, but sometimes, strained tissues continue to cause chronic pain, which can worsen with the slightest trigger.
Sometimes, injuries and falls may go unnoticed and the discomfort may begin at a later point.
This can cause back pain due to continued stress on the injured parts. It may also involve injury the spinal disc, nerves or other parts. Burning pain in the back is generally felt in strained muscles, injured or compressed nerves or disc injuries and should be evaluated for appropriate treatment.
Burning Back Pain Caused due to Nerve Problems
Nerve involvement can lead to burning sensation and these too, can cause burning back pain. Peripheral nerve compression or trauma, peripheral neuropathy or radiculopathy can cause burning pain in the back.
Other Causes of Burning Back Pain
Other causes of burning pain in back can be diabetes or diabetic neuropathy that can affect the nerves and the resulting burning pain. Sometimes, neuropathies may also occur in alcoholics, which can result in burning sensation. Referred pain from other areas like abdomen, chest or neck can sometimes cause burning back pain. Burns to the skin of the back like electrical or thermal burns, heat burn, sun burn or skin injury due to certain chemicals can irritate the skin and cause burning back pain. Infections like herpes, when affect the area around the back can cause burning pain. Certain diseases like encephalitis, multiple sclerosis or other conditions affecting the spine and nerves can result in burning back pain.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Burning Back Pain
Not all back pain is associated with burning sensation or burning pain in back. When there is a burning back pain, it is important to evaluate the condition in time. Along with proper history, clinical examination can give a fair idea about the condition. Appropriate investigations like blood tests, X-Rays, MRI and other scans, may be ordered to conclude a diagnosis.
Treatment would depend on the cause of condition leading to burning back pain. Medications like muscle relaxants, nerve medicines and nutritional supplements may be considered. Adequate rest, exercises, mechanical support and physical therapy are other modalities that can help in reducing the complaints of burning back pain.