Fortunately, most episodes of back pain will heal with time: approximately 50% of patients will feel relief from low back pain within two weeks, and approximately 90% within three months, regardless of the treatment.
The majority of episodes of acute back pain are due to a muscular strain and these will usually resolve with time because muscles have a good blood supply to bring the necessary nutrients and proteins for healing to take place.
Back Pain Caused by Lumbar Spine Problems
For patients with low back pain that lasts longer than three months, or patients with predominantly leg pain, a more specific and definable problem for the pain should be sought. There are several very common causes of low back pain and leg pain:
In younger adults (20-60 year olds) the disc is likely to be the pain generator and conditions may include:
- Lumbar disc herniation
- Degenerative disc disease
- Isthmic spondylolisthesis
In older adults (over 60 years old), the source of back pain or leg pain is more likely to be the facet joints or osteoarthritis, and back conditions may include:
- Facet joint osteoarthritis
- Degenerative spondylolisthesis
In addition to the above, there are several miscellaneous causes of back pain.
Neck Pain from Cervical Spine Conditions
While neck pain is less prevalent than lower back pain, there are several cervical spine conditions that may cause neck pain, arm pain and other symptoms, including:
- Foraminal stenosis
- Stenosis with myelopathy
- Cervical osteoarthritis
- Cervical degenerative disc disease
Additionally, there are several miscellaneous causes of upper extremity pain related to conditions of the cervical spine.