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FAQs on Back Pain

Backache or back pain is the pain spread over back and observed anywhere between neck and sacrum. Back pain is categorized as cervical pain, mid back pain, lumbar pain and sacral pain.

FAQs on Back Pain

What Is Back Pain?

Back pain is a sign of diseases of back. The back disease involves skin, subcutaneous tissue, muscle, tendon, ligament, disc and facet joint. Following are the most common diseases that causes back pain:-

What Is Cervical Back Pain or Neck Pain?

Description of cervical or neck pain is as follows-

  • Pain is observed over back of neck
  • Upper cervical pain is caused by diseases of vertebral column and spinal nerve spread between first and fifth cervical segment.
  • Isolated neck or cervical pain is caused by cervical (neck) facet joint disease, tendon abnormalities, muscle spasm and ligamental disease.
  • Cervical back pain or neck pain that radiates to upper extremities is caused by disc herniation, disc bulge, spinal stenosis, foraminal stenosis and spinal tumor.
  • Lower cervical back pain is caused by diseases affecting fifth to eights cervical nerve and segment of spinal column.
  • Upper cervical pain is frequently referred to mandible and side of neck.
  • Lower cervical pain is frequently referred to upper extremity

Is Back Pain A Sign Of Cancer?

Back pain can be a sign of cancer. Cancer is the rare cause of backache. Following cancer diseases can cause back pain-

  • Cancer of Pancreas– Causes pain in abdomen, lower thoracic or upper lumbar segment.
  • Cancer of Kidney and Ureter– Causes unilateral back pain in upper lumbar segment.
  • Cancer of Ovary– Cancer of ovary causes unilateral pain in pelvis as well as back. Back pain is often spread over lower lumbar and sacral segment.
  • Cancer of Uterus- Cancer of uterus causes midline pain that is spread over lower abdomen and pelvis, as well as in lower lumbar segment.
  • Cancer of Fallopian Tube- Cancer of fallopian tube causes unilateral pelvic pain as well as sacral pain.
  • Testicular Cancer Pain– Pain is felt over scrotum and lower half of sacrum.
  • Cancer of Back Muscles- The cancer like rhabdomyosarcoma causes unilateral pain over paravertebral muscle.
  • Cancer of Spinal Nerve– Fibrosarcoma causes unilateral severe pain that is often associated with tingling, numbness and weakness of muscle.
  • Cancer of Spinal Cord– Pain is slow in occurrence and observed over both sides of back. Pain is also associated with tingling, numbness and weakness in muscles. Spinal cord cancer that may cause backache is schwannoma, astrocytoma, ependymomas, hemangioma and meningioma.

What Causes Back Pain In Females?

  • Skin diseases like carbuncle, furuncle and cellulitis
  • Paravertebral muscle spasm
  • Facet joint disease
  • Paravertebral tendon inflammation
  • Inflammation or tear of ligament attached to spinal column.
  • Kidney infection
  • Pancreatitis
  • Rupture of ovary
  • Fallopian tube infection
  • Fallopian tube torsion

How Do I Know If My Back Pain Is Serious?

Following condition causing back pain can be serious:

  • Ruptured Abdominal Aorta– Sudden intense back pain that is also spread over abdomen is caused by ruptured abdominal aorta. The condition can be life threatening and needs emergency surgery.
  • Myocardial Infarction– Most myocardial infarction causes pain over left side of chest and left shoulder. Occasionally such pain may refer to left side of back between second and fifth thoracic vertebra.
  • Compression or Pinch of Spinal Cord– Back pain associated with sudden weakness in arm or leg is often caused by pinch of spinal cord. Surgery is necessary to prevent sudden permanent paralysis of muscles.
  • Compression or Pinch of Spinal Nerve– Back pain is a serious symptom when associated with symptoms of tingling and numbness. Symptoms of tingling and numbness suggests possible pinch of spinal nerve.

How Do I Get Rid Of Back Pain Or Make My Lower Back Pain Go Away?

Intensity of back pain is spread between mild to severe pain. Back pain may be associated with tingling, numbness and muscle weakness. Lower Back may be referred to leg. Conservative treatment does not help if pain is associated with symptoms like tingling, numbness and muscle weakness. Back pain may go away with following treatment:

  • Rest– Pain cause muscle spasm and muscle fatigue is often relieved after few hours of bed rest.
  • Heat Therapy– Mild to moderate pain is treated with heal therapy and stretching of back. Heat treatment is applied over most painful area of back. Heat treatment involves placing of warm wet towel or hot water in rubber bac over the most painful area. During physical therapy infra-red light is used for heat therapy. Pain cause by muscle spasm and muscle fatigue responds to treatment.
  • Cryo or Cold Therapy– Cold therapy involves application of ice in plastic or rubber bag over most painful area of back. Cryo therapy is applied for 20 to 30 minutes every 4 hours. Individual suffering with mild to moderate back pain may feel better in 24 hours.
  • Stretching Exercises– The stretching of neck, mid back and lower back reduces backache or pain. Stretching of muscle, tendon and ligament often relieves back pain.
  • Yoga Therapy- Yoga therapy involving movement of back, upper and lower extremities helps to get rid of back pain.
  • Massage Therapy– Massage therapy is advised if back pain is caused by muscle spasm. Check your back and if you feel tight swollen muscles on either side of midline of back then consider massage therapy.
  • Acupuncture– Acupuncture is yet another alternative treatment for back pain caused by tear of ligament or ligamentum flavum hypertrophy where the acupuncturist utilizes needles as a means of stimulating certain areas under the skin.
  • Chiropractic Therapy– The chiropractic therapy involves manipulation of back and repositioning of ligaments. Chiropractic manipulation of back may stabilize the spine column and also strengthen the paravertebral muscles. Chiropractic therapy is useful in patients suffering from mild to moderate hypertrophy of ligamentum flavum.
  • NSAIDs– Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are used for mild to moderate pain. Pain caused by muscle fatigue, over stretching of tendon and ligament response to NSAIDs. Pain relief is often felt in few hours after taking first pills. NSAIDs pills should be taken for 3 to 5 days.
  • Muscle Relaxants– If muscle spasm is a cause of pain and if the back pain is not relieved after rest and massage therapy then muscle relaxants are tried. Most common muscle relaxants used to treat back pain are Flexeril, Soma and Relaxants.

When Should You Go To The Doctor For Back Pain?

Back pain is the most common cause of pain in human body. Most back pain is caused by back muscles spasm or muscle fatigue. Such pain disappears after rest.

One suffering with back pain or backache should see physician for following reason:

  • Radiating Pain- Back pain radiate to arm or leg when pain is caused by pinch nerve.
  • Sudden occurrence of intolerable severe back that is radiating to arms and leg.
  • Back pain associated with tingling and numbness. The cause could be disc herniation or bulge
  • Back pain associated with muscle weakness. The cause could be spinal stenosis, foraminal narrowing, disc bulge and disc herniation.
  • Mid back pain associated with breathing difficulties. Weakness in thoracic and abdominal muscle may have cause because of compression of spinal cord secondary to stenosis in mid back.
  • Backache associated with discoloration and bruising of back.
  • Back pain associated with chest, abdominal or pelvic pain.


  1. A definition of flare in low back pain (LBP): A multiphase process involving perspectives of individuals with LBP and expert consensus.

    Costa N1, Ferreira ML2, Setchell J1, Makovey J2, Dekroo T1, Downie A3, Diwan A4, Koes B5, Natvig B6, Vicenzino B1, Hunter D7, Roseen E8, Rasmussen-Barr E9, Guillemin F10, Hartvigsen J11, Bennell K12, Costa L13, Macedo L14, Pinheiro M15, Underwood M16, Van Tulder M17, Johansson M18, Enthoven P19, Kent P20, O’Sullivan P20, Suri P21, Genevay S22, Hodges PW23.

    J Pain. 2019 Mar 20. pii: S1526-5900(18)30522-4.

  2. Perceptions and Response to Conservative Treatment of Low Back Pain in Soldiers During Initial Entry Training: A Convergence Mixed Methods Study.
    Schoonover CM1, Turner SL2, Woods Y3, Smith-Forbes E3, Rhon DI4., Mil Med. 2019 Mar 1;184(Supplement_1):550-556. doi: 10.1093/milmed/usy345.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:April 2, 2019

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