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A backache is the sensation of discomfort, inflammation, soreness, achiness, or stiffness in back. A backache often occurs in the lower back, medically known as the lumbar spine. A backache, also called back pain, is a symptom of a wide variety of mild to serious diseases, disorders and conditions. A backache can result from infection, trauma, malignancy, genetic disorders and other abnormal processes.
A backache can indicate a relatively benign condition, such as mild back sprain. A backache can be the result of a moderate condition, disorder or disease, such as ankylosing spondylitis and osteoarthritis. A backache can also accompany serious conditions that can even be life-threatening. These include bone cancer and spinal cancer.
Depending on the cause, a backache can be short-term and disappear quickly, such as when a backache or mild stiffness occurs after lying down for an extended period of time then resolves after moving around.
A backache can also occur suddenly and severely, such a backache that happens due to sudden back trauma resulting in thoracic spine fracture or lumbar spine fracture. A backache can also be chronic and ongoing over a long period of time, such as when a backache is due to osteoarthritis. For more details about causes, see causes of backache.
A backache often occurs in conjunction with other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Other symptoms can include numbness or altered sensations of the legs and feet (paresthesia), weakness of the legs and feet, pain with sitting, and fever.
Complications of a backache can be progressive and vary depending on the underlying cause. Complications can include increasing stiffness of the back, back weakness, and difficulty moving and completing the activities of daily living. This can progress in some cases to partial or complete disability.
Diagnosing a backache and its root cause begins with taking a thorough personal and family medical history, including symptoms, and completing a physical examination. A physical examination includes a neurological examination. This includes a rectal exam and testing a person's gait, reflexes, muscle strength, and sensation. A physical exam may also include exams of other body areas, such as the abdomen and pelvis.
Depending on the suspected cause of a backache, tests can include blood tests, urine tests, and imaging tests, such as X-ray, MRI, CT and/or myelogram, a special type of X-ray of the back. Electromyelogram (EMG) may be done to measure electrical activity of the muscles.
A diagnosis of a backache and its cause can easily be delayed or missed because a backache may be mild and for other reasons. For information on misdiagnosis, refer to misdiagnosis of a backache.
Treatment of a backache involves diagnosing and treating the underlying disease, disorder or condition that is causing it. Some conditions can be easily and successfully treated and cured, while others may require more intensive treatment and may not have an optimal prognosis. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of a backache. ...more »
Treatment plans for a backache are individualized depending on the underlying cause, the presence of coexisting diseases, the age and medical history of the patient, and other factors. Treatment generally involves a multifaceted plan that addresses the cause of backache, minimizes the discomfort of a backache, decreases the risk of developing serious ...more treatments »
Diagnosing a backache and its cause may be delayed or missed because in some cases, a backache may not be severe enough for a person to seek medical care. In addition, diagnosing the underlying or associated disease, disorder or condition can be delayed because noticeable symptoms, such as a backache, may not occur immediately, such as in bone cancer.
A backache is a symptom of many ...more misdiagnosis »
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Acute or chronic pain located in the posterior regions of the THORAX; LUMBOSACRAL REGION; or the adjacent regions. - (Source - Diseases Database)
An ache localized in the back - (Source - WordNet 2.1)
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