The most commonly misdiagnosed or underdiagnosed disorders that cause back pain are:
- Disc Disorders: disorders of the spongy discs between the vertebrae in the spine, such as herniation or rupture.
- Facet Arthopathy: a disorder of the facet joints in the lower back.
- Failed Back Surgery Syndrome (FBSS): chronic pain resulting from back surgery, either because the surgery was misdirected or as a result of the surgery itself.
- Neuropathy: “phantom pain” that is caused by damaged or malfunctioning nerves.
- Sacroiliac Joint Disorders: disorders of the joints between the tailbone (sacrum) and hipbones (ilia)
- Vertebral Fractures: simple fractures or compression fractures of the vertebral bones in the spine.
Our doctors have specialized in diagnosing back pain and have had a lot of experience in diagnosing and treating each of the disorders listed above. The most common symptoms for each of the disorders are listed below so that you may read more about the possible source of your back pain.
Symptoms of Disc Disorders, such as herniation or rupture:
- Sharp pain, which may feel like electric shock
- Muscle weakness
- Difficulty urinating or having bowel movements (see note below)
- Numbess around your genitals (see note below)
Note: If you are having back pain along with bowel or bladder problems, it may be an indication of a serious medical condition called cauda equina syndrome. This can be caused by a herniated disc and is a medical emergency. You should contact your doctor or go to a hospital immediately if you have difficulty urinating, having bowel movements, or have numbness around your genitals.
The cause of pain in FBSS can differ, so the symptoms will also, but some common symptoms are:
- Diffuse pain in legs or back
- Dull pain in legs or back
- Aching pain in legs or back
- Sharp pain or pricking in extremities
People who are experiencing neuropathic pain often describe it as feeling like no pain they’ve ever felt before. Because it is pain caused by a malfunctioning nerve rather than a nerve responding normally to injury or disorder, it can be difficult to characterize. The pain may manifest in many different ways, and may even be different for the same person from day to day.
Symptoms of Neuropathy:
- Shooting pain
- Burning pain
- Cold pain
- Pain when touched (allodynia)
Symptoms of Sacroiliac Joint Disorders:
- Sharp or aching pain in lower back, usually just on one side
- Increase in pain after sitting for a long time
- Pain alleviated by standing or walking
- Numbness, tingling, or weakness in lower extremities is possible but rare
Symptoms of Vertebral Fractures:
- Pain in the lower back
- Pain in the hip, abdomen, or thigh
- Pain that does not subside with rest or activity
- Numbness or weakness – this can be caused by pressure on the spinal nerves from the broken vertebrae
- Loss of bowel control – this can indicate that the fractured vertebrae is putting pressure on the spinal column