If every doctor you go to for your back pain is left scratching their head in confusion, you may be dealing with more than just a typical pulled muscle or misaligned vertebrae. Patients with obscure back problems can often suffer for long periods before finally receiving the right diagnosis, so if you haven't been able to get a respite from your pain, it may be time to consider one of these rare conditions.
Discitis: Bacteria Causing Painful Inflammation
Symptoms: Discitis often presents similar to other strong infections. The site of the inflammation is intensely painful and hurts when pressed. The skin around affected discs may be red and inflamed, but this does not always happen. Unlike other types of back pain, patients with discitis experience localized pain, not the type that shoots down the leg or radiates into the torso. As with any infection, discitis often causes a fever and chills as your body tries to burn out the bacteria.
Risk Factors: The most common cause of discitis is improper wound care after back surgery. Serious surgeries that take longer to heal will put you more at risk for discitis. Spontaneous discitis can also occur without any surgery, though it is far rarer. This form of the disease generally affects very young children, the elderly, people with diabetes, and people who are immunocompromised.
Treatment: An internal infection must be taken seriously, so you won't be able to just pick up a prescription antibiotic pill to get rid of the disease. Instead, you'll have to attend daily antibiotic injections at a medically supervised injection site. You may also be prescribed painkillers to help you cope until the inflammation goes down.
Neoplasms: Pressure-Inducing Growths
Symptoms: These growth are essentially tumors that can be composed of cartilage, bone, or soft tissues. Due to the many different types of neoplasms, symptoms can vary. One common symptom combination is back pain and weakness in the legs, or even partial paralysis. This is because even a small tumor can put enough pressure on the nerve to shut off signals to the legs. Sometimes neoplasms may be felt by a doctor or chiropractor, but others form on the inner part of the spine and can only been seen on scans.
Risk Factors: Neoplasms can be both benign and malignant. Benign ones are generally found in children due to growth defects, though one that goes unnoticed may continue to grow into adulthood and suddenly cause symptoms. More often, adults have malignant neoplasms, which may spread to other parts of the body if not quickly discovered.
Treatment: Benign growths that do not cause problematic symptoms may be left alone with no ill effects. Benign tumors that cause symptoms and malignant tumors are removed surgically. Depending on the placement of the growth, this can sometimes be an outpatient procedure.
Annular Rupture: Injury Preceding A Herniated Disc
Symptoms: Strong pain in the back, sometimes accompanied with a weaker pain in the legs. Pain will be most intense at the affected disc. Pain intensifies when sitting up and bending down, as more weight is put on the damaged disc.
Risk Factors: An annular rupture is specifically a crack or hole in the cartilaginous outer shell of a disc, which may allow the soft insides to herniate if not treated quickly. This damage most often occurs in athletes, people with strenuous labor jobs, and people who bend and stand repeatedly throughout the day. Elderly people are also at risk, as the cartilage can wear away over time and make it easier to rupture a disc.
Treatment: If caught quickly enough, preventative physical therapy can help heal the disc before it ruptures. If the disc cannot be salvaged, you may need to have a surgical implant placed to help relieve pain and increase mobility.
Back pain doesn't have to be a life sentence. If you and your doctors aren't sure what causes your pain, don't give up! Keep asking and keep looking for treatments. Eventually you'll get the answers you need to get back to full health. For help in the meantime, visit a company like Chiropractor Plus for pain relief and adjustments.