Resources for People with Back Pain
Mechanical back pain: this simply means that your back hurts when you move. Doctors use this term to say that your back pain is not due to anything serious like a fracture, tumour, or infection.
Degeneration/wear and tear/osteoarthritis: these changes are normal and happen very slowly. They are not affected by daily movement or exercise. These changes will have been there much longer than your current back pain, so they should not affect your recovery.
Slipped disc: the discs in your back are made out of cartilage, like the hard part of the outside of your ear. They are fused to the bones above and below. Although the shape of a disc can change, discs cannot slip or move out of place.
Bulging/herniated disc: a scan of your back may show a ‘disc bulge’. But it’s hard to say the bulge is the problem because bulges are also often found in people with no back pain. Most bulges shrink over
time without any treatment.
Sciatica: this means you have pain in your leg. It is because your brain thinks part of the problem is in your leg. Leg pain does not prove a nerve is pinched. If a nerve is pinched you will have weakness and numbness, as well as pain. Your doctor will also notice changes in your reflexes.
Muscle spasm: this is another way in which your brain protects your back. Spasm is your brain making your muscles contract to prevent movement. It does not mean there is anything wrong with the muscles (in fact they are working well). Muscles which are in spasm tend to become sore as well, as they do not relax and rest as they normally would.