Back pain is a very common ailment which affects as many as 80 percent of the U.S. population at some point in their lives. Statistically, it affects as many as 65 million Americans each year and is one of the most common reasons for medical visits. Back pain can be acute or chronic and can be debilitating. However, despite technological advances in imaging and testing, it may be difficult to diagnose and treat.
Back pain is divided into four different areas: Cervical (neck); thoracic (upper back); lumbar (lower back); and sacral (tail bone). Most commonly, pain arises from inflammation of muscles or connective tissues and may include the joints, bones or spinal canal. In general, back pain may be preceded by an injury or a bending or twisting motion (e.g. a car injury, lifting weights, playing sports or carrying heavy objects). However, pain can occur without an obvious trigger, making the diagnosis more difficult. The cause of back pain may be determined by a thorough history and a physical conducted by a physician or other medical professional. Regardless of cause, pain can severely limit activity, cause you to miss work and affect one's quality of life.