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Three Categories Related to Back Pain

By Debra Rodzinak

Back pain can mean many different things. Someone can turn wrong and have lower back pain while another person can be involved in a serious accident that causes a fracture of their spine and experience lower back pain. These two scenarios are very different in cause and intensity. When dealing with lower back pain, a three-tiered category is often used to help doctors understand the extent of the back pain. 

Potentially Serious

This is the category that includes serious problems with the back such as:

  • Tumor
  • Infection
  • Spinal fracture
  • Neurological problems
  • Open wounds or burns
  • Hemophilia (uncontrolled bleeding)
  • Joint implant problems
  • Pacemaker problems
  • Infections of the joints

Nerve Problems

The nerves in the lower back can become pinched or compressed. The pain is often referred to as sciatica. Typical causes of the pinching of the nerve root include:

  • Lumbar Herniated Disc
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Spinal Stenosis


This is the most common type of lower back pain. Referred to as mechanical back pain, this type of pain is not identifiable in the root cause. There are several characteristics of non-specific back pain.  These include:

  • Lower back pain that tends to worsen with certain activities or sports
  • Lower back pain that tends to worsen with certain positions like sitting or standing for long periods
  • Lower back pain that subsides with rest

Chiropractors generally deal with non-specific lower back pain or nerve problems. 

When a chiropractor determines that a nerve root problem is causing pain that runs down the buttocks (sciatica), relief is often found with spinal adjustments that release the nerve from the pressure. If the pain is non-specific, the chiropractor will try different adjustments to determine what is working best for the patient.

Pain Scale

When presented with back pain from either sciatica or a non-specific reason, chiropractors will typically use the following scale to describe the symptoms:

  • Acute – symptoms last 6 weeks or less
  • Subacute – symptoms last 6 to 12 weeks
  • Chronic – symptoms last more than 12 weeks
  • Recurrent – symptoms flare up from time to time or from worsening conditions
  • Sciatica symptoms may also be classified as mild, moderate, or severe

If you fall into the nerve problem or non-specific type of lower back pain, drop by The Joint and let one of the expert chiropractors work with you to develop a plan that can alleviate your back pain. With no pesky form to fill out or appointment times to remember, The Joint provides patients with a way to deal with their back pain without the use of drugs or surgery. 

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