Symptoms and Treatments of Chronic Back Pain

How many times have you heard someone complain about their “bad back”? Back pain stops many people from performing and enjoying simple everyday activities; from sports, lifting groceries or grandchildren, to sleeping comfortably. “Bad backs” seem so ubiquitous, that many assume it’s just another side effect of getting old. While some amount of aches and pains can be expected with ageing, chronic back pain can seriously impact the quality of life in all ages.

Back pain can range from acute to chronic, and can occur at multiple points of the back separately or all at once. About 20 percent of people who have experienced acute back pain later develop chronic back pain symptoms. Chronic back pain is defined as pain that persists for 12 weeks or longer. If you’ve been experiencing ongoing back pain, read on to learn more about the symptoms and causes of chronic back pain, and how to find relief.


So what does chronic back pain look like? Symptoms of chronic back pain include:

  • Upper, middle, and lower back pain
  • Pain in the legs, including sciatica symptoms
  • Numbness or weakness in leg or foot
  • Back strain
  • Stiffness
  • Soreness
  • Limited mobility
  • Inability to lift heavy objects
  • Sleep loss
  • Causes

    Unfortunately, pinpointing the exact cause of chronic back pain can be difficult. Chronic back pain may be caused by:

  • Arthritis of the spine, including impact arthritis (acute) or osteoarthritis (old age)
  • Spinal stenosis, which causes the narrowing of the spaces between the spine, leading to nerve pain and damage
  • Disc problems, such as a herniated or bulging discs, or degenerative disc disease
  • Myofascial syndrome or fibromyalgia, which causes unexplained muscle pain and tenderness
  • Overuse from heavy lifting or intense or prolonged physical activity
  • Bad posture
  • Improper exercise technique
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    Some portions of the population may be more prone to developing chronic back pain than others. Risk factors for developing chronic back pain include:

  • Living a sedentary lifestyle
  • Frequent heavy lifting at your job
  • Being overweight
  • Treatment

    When crafting a treatment plan for chronic back pain, the most realistic goal is pain management rather than a complete eradication of pain. Treatment to manage chronic pain may include:

  • Heat and ice therapy
  • Low impact exercise
  • Over the counter NSAIDs
  • Lumbar supports for chairs
  • Switching to a more supportive mattress
  • Prescription pain medications
  • Physical therapy
  • Corticosteroid injections
  • Surgery

    While many conditions which lead to chronic back pain can be managed with non surgical treatment methods, some conditions may require surgery to alleviate pain. Surgical treatment for chronic back pain may include:

  • Spinal decompression surgery is a procedure that widens the spinal canal alleviating pressure on the nerves caused by conditions such as spinal stenosis.
  • Surgical removal of a herniated or bulging disc.
  • Spinal fusion surgery that strengthens the spine at weak points.
  • Disc replacement surgery which replaces damaged discs to alleviate pain and strengthen the spine.
  • Pain Management at MidAmerica Orthopaedics

    At MidAmerica Orthopaedics you can count on our team to get to the root of your chronic back pain and craft a treatment plan that is best for you and your back.

    To learn more about MidAmerica Orthopaedics and the different treatment options available to you, request an appointment online or call (708) 237-7200. MidAmerica Orthopaedics serves various areas such as Chicago, Tinley Park, Palos Hills, Mokena, Evergreen Park, New Lenox, Oak Lawn, Orland Park, and more.

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