Although I tend to think of the word “pain” as a single sort of entity and experience; scientists and back surgeons break this concept of “pain” down into some interesting subcategories that we’ll discuss. The information below I first read about in a book by a spine surgeon named Nathaniel Tindel, M.D. So, the info, unsurprisingly, is very much in context with someone, like myself, who suffers back pain in particular.
And, to be more specific, I believe this information will be of most interest to those who are struggling with back pain in particular.
Different Types of Back-Related Pain
- Lower back pain: also known as LBP, lower back pain is restricted to the lower back and does not relate to the arms, neck or legs. The level of intensity and persistence varies. There’s specific lower back pain which has an identifiable cause. There’s nonspecific LBP which can’t be traced to any origin.
- Referred pain: referred pain is very tricky because it’s coming from a different place than you’re actually feeling it! For instance, sometimes pain originating in the back can be felt in the abdomen or butt region. I, personally, can relate to this experience of referred pain. The Xrays and MRIs clearly indicated that my problem was a broken vertebra and several crushed discs. There was no doubt about that! And, I most certainly did have TREMENDOUS pain in the lumbar back. However, I also had intense pain in my abdomen (on the side/front of my body and often the left side.} I was really scared, truth be told! The doctor was worried, and I had a series of tests and things including an MRI of my bladder and more. Well, after my surgery, it was clear that all of that abdominal pain (also butt pain) was all referred….because it all went away!
- Radicular pain: pain that feels like it’s zapping down the legs. Sometimes people refer to this as sciatica (but sciatica is actually a more specific term).
- Neurogenic claudication: this is a type of pain that results from spinal stenosis (narrowing of spinal column). It’s felt when walking. Many who suffer from neurogenic claudication get relief if they stop walking and sit down. Interestingly enough, pushing a shopping cart is reported to ease this type of pain: likely because it puts the person in a slightly bent position with their hands at a favorable height for pain relief from neurogenic cluadication.
There are some other types of pain that will be discussed shortly.