The spine is made up of many small bones called vertebrae. These are separated by discs, which allow the spine to bend and take the load through the body. Vertebrae and discs are supported along its length by muscles and ligaments. The spinal cord threads through the centre of each vertebrae, carrying nerves from the brain to the rest of the body. The joints at the back of each the vertebrae, one on the left and one on the right, are called the facet joints. These can become inflamed easily and have many pain fibres. Arthritis can develop here.
Sources of back pain:
Pain can come from disc problems, facet joints, nerves, bone, muscle or ligament. Early identification of the sources of the pain helps to provide a focussed treatment plan for short and long-term benefit.
Back pain may be associated with other symptoms – it may radiate into the legs due to nerve irritation. When severe and in certain situations this can be due to a slipped disc.
In a relatively small number of cases, back pain may have a more serious underlying cause. This includes abnormality of the spine, an infection or a collapse of the vertebrae, fibromyalgia (a condition that affects the muscles), infection or cancer.