Back Pain Questions | Questions and Answers

When your back pain gets to a certain severity or has finally gone on long enough, you will eventually make an appointment with your doctor to try to come up with causes and solutions. Doctors will try to find out what is wrong with you by assessing your signs and symptoms, and possibly by more high tech diagnostic tests that may be considered useful. Signs of disease are something that is either observed through a doctor's observations, such as muscle weakness related to back pain with sciatica. Symptoms of disease are the patient's complaints as stated by the patient, such as sharp pains in the lower back, or numbness in a certain area of the foot. Once all the data about the patient's signs and symptoms of disease are collected, the doctor may move on to an appropriate diagnosis and treatment protocol.

During your physical examination, your doctor may ask you a series of questions to find out what triggered the disease condition causing your painful symptoms or what may have caused you to have the structural damage in your back.

Back Pain Questions to Help You Find the Cause:
When did the Pain Begin? Your doctor is going to ask you this question for a couple of reasons. First, he or she is going to want to find out if there was an obvious event or trauma that caused you to experience your symptoms. Was there a recent trauma? Did you suddenly experience something in your back while picking up a bag of sand or an awkward movement? Second, your doctor is going to want to assess between acute back pain and chronic back pain. Acute back pain is pain that comes on suddenly and then subsides in a matter of days or weeks. Chronic back pain is pain that has lasted for three months or more.

How long does it last and how often does it occur? The events that trigger your symptoms, the frequency of attacks, and the length of time that the symptoms last are all useful to the doctors diagnostically. The initial episodes of mechanical low back pain resolve over days. With successive episodes, the symptoms may last longer - as long as week or longer. Episodes may be intermittent over time, or they may occur with shorter periods of recovery in between. Doctors will want to evaluate the association between your physical professional and private work commitments, and the way your back feels. This means that doctors are going to want to find out whether certain movements or physical demandments at work or home are triggering your symptoms. For example, have your symptoms increased since your job included more time driving in your car? Do you notice an increase in your symptoms during seasonal changes where you have to do more bending and lifting in the yard? For medical low back pain, the important characteristic is duration, not frequency. While mechanical low back pain has comparatively short episodes lasting from days to weeks, medical low back pain is more persistent, possibly lasting for months, with little fluctuation in the severity of the back pain symptoms.

Where is it located and where else do you feel it? Patients may feel pain in and radiating away from the area where the structural damage to the back has occurred. Patients may also feel pain in another section of the body, which occurs due to irritation to one of the nerves near where they exit the spine. When pain is experienced in one section of the body, but occurs due to an injury in another section, this condition is known as referred pain. The presence of referred pain not only indicates the likelihood or nerve irritation, but also precisely which nerves are involved. For example, if you were to have lower back pain as well as numbness or weakness in the inner part of the back of your lower leg, it would indicate a good likelihood of nerve root compression of the S2 spinal nerve root.