Back pain is one of most common conditions that affect the lower spine. It affects more than 3 million people per year. According to mayo clinic, approximately 80% of Americans experience low pain at least once in their lives. It is also one of the most common reasons for doctor visits and a leading cause of disability worldwide.
According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Disease, back pain can range from a dull, constant ache to a sudden, sharp pain that makes it hard to move.1 It can start quickly if you fall or lift something too heavy, or it can get worse slowly.
Here are some factors that elevate the risk:
- Getting older
- Lack of exercise
- Being overweight
- Genetic factor
- Occupation (a job that requires heavy lifting, pushing, or pulling)
There are mainly two types of back pain: acute and chronic.
- According to Cleveland clinic, acute pain begins suddenly and is usually sharp in nature. It serves as a warning or threat to the body. It is usually of a short duration and heals quickly.
- Chronic pain is prolonged in duration. It persists for weeks, months, or years. It is a major cause of disability and usually associated with prominent mental symptoms such as depression, anger, and anxiety.
Diagnosing Your Back Pain
You know your back hurts, but not sure if it’s acute or chronic? Take on our quiz to see how severe it really is. Find out where your back pain ranks here:
Q1. How long have you been suffering from back pain?
A. It started just a few days ago.
B. It started 2–3 weeks ago but has not reduced and hurts a lot.
C. It started months ago.
Q2. What was the cause of your back pain? (How did it start?)
A. It started after a recent injury, but now I feel better now.
B. It started after a severe fall and hasn’t improved; it’s getting worse day by day.
C. I’ve been suffering from pain without a clearly determined cause for a long time.
Q3. How would you describe your pain?
A. It comes suddenly and is usually sharp in nature.
B. I cannot describe it.
C. It is usually dull and constantly aching.
Q4. Do you have any prominent mental symptoms?
A. No, I’ve not had any prominent mental symptoms.
B. I feel irritated nowadays because of the worsening symptoms.
C. I always feel sad, depressed, fatigued, and sleepless.
Q5. Do you have any chronic degenerative or inflammatory disease conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or degenerative disc disease?
A. No, I do not have any chronic disease.
B. I am not sure.
C. I have been suffering from osteoarthritis for around 5 years.
Q6. What worsens your pain?
B. Prolonged rest or inactivity
C. Prolonged sitting or standing
Q7. What relieves your pain?
B. Not sure
C. Often fluctuates
Q8. Do you any problems in completing everyday activities?
A. Not always; just since few days because of the pain
B. No, I do not have any problem with the everyday activities
C. Yes, it is always difficult to complete my everyday activities
If most of your answers were the “A” options, you probably have an acute pain. It could indicate a recent injury, fall, or any other disease. It serves as a biological warning and treatment of the underlying cause is mandatory.
If most of your answers were the “B” options, your pain has possibly reached a subacute stage. If you don’t take extra care of your condition and underlying disease, it can turn into “chronic pain.”
If most of your answers were the “C” options, unfortunately, your condition is likely chronic pain. It could indicate an underlying chronic disease. Sometimes, there are no identifying causes available.
NOTE: This quiz is for information purposes only. Visit your doctor to confirm the diagnosis.