There is a very distinct difference between acute and chronic back pain within a patient. Understanding this is crucial for both the physician and the patient in order to receive proper treatment.
Acute back pain is a condition that occurs due to the development of one or more conditions in the body, with the primary example being a new injury. Acute back pain can often be treated by adequately diagnosing the root cause and providing relief for it.
One common occurrence of acute pain is one or more nerves are being compressed in the body by a bulging or herniated disc, leading to pain felt throughout the back and limbs. Correcting the disc will provide relief for this condition and clear up the symptomatic pains.
Chronic pain, however, is when these symptomatic pains persist even after the previously diagnosed root cause has been treated. This type of pain is being treated as a serious condition only in recent times. Previously, it was simply regarded as a lingering pain from an acute condition and was treated as if the patient was not actually experiencing a treatable pain. With chronic pain now being thought of as a primary condition, more treatments are becoming available for patients.
What causes Back Pain?
Conditions of acute pain are the result of a new affliction to the body, with direct spinal injury, degenerative disc disease, nerve compression, and arthritic damage as some of the major contributing factors for these pains. In contrast, chronic pain is not the result of a single cause. In many cases, it is simply the culmination of a number of contributing factors within the body.
The symptoms of Back Pain
The symptoms a patient will experience will vary depending on the source of the acute pain. Most commonly, a back sprain or strain leads to pain in the lower back, and it may radiate into the buttocks or flank regions.
Here are some conditions that cause acute back pain:
Flareup of Degenerative Disc Disease
Flareup of Spinal Arthritis
Vertebral Compression Fracture
If the back pain is associated with compressed nerves, it can lead to numbness, weakness and pain felt in the limbs. Rarely, it can result in loss of bowel and bladder control from cauda equina syndrome, depending on which nerves are affected.
Chronic pain symptoms will depend on the original cause of the acute pain. It varies widely from patient to patient. If the chronic pain is from degenerative disc disease, it may bother the person daily, or it may wax and wane.
Here are some examples of issues that may cause chronic back pain:
Degenerative Disc Disease
SI Joint Pain
Failed Back Surgery Syndrome
How is Back Pain diagnosed?
Acute pain can be diagnosed by identifying the cause. This is commonly done by a recount of the patient’s immediate medical history and noting what factors (such as injury) may have resulted in the pain. More often than not, imaging techniques such as X-ray or a CT scan will be used to examine the area.
If the acute pain is thought to be the result of one or more compressed nerves, a diagnostic nerve block may be administered in order to confirm this. This is the temporary numbing the nerve to block pain signals from the area to the brain. If relief is gained from this, then the blocked nerve may be the root cause.
Chronic pain can either be diagnosed by examining the original acute pain or comparing the symptoms. In some cases, the cause of the pain may be unknown and the physician will not be able to confirm the presence of a condition.
Acute pain is normally treated by providing relief related to the direct cause of the pain. For many patients, this is enough to provide symptomatic relief. Chronic pain is best treated through the use of a multidisciplinary approach using medication, physical therapy, nerve blocks, and possibly even surgical correction.
If you or a loved one is suffering from Back Pain in San Antonio and would like the best treatment, contact Texas Pain Network today. The practice has chiropractic, physical therapy and a Double Board Certified pain management doctor accepting over 50 insurance plans at multiple locations.
Call (210) 202-4030 for more information and scheduling!