Chronic vertebral pain, or back pain lasting longer than 3 to 6 months, occurs commonly and is very challenging to treat. Often, the cause is not clear, and response to treatment is inadequate. If a lesion cannot be identified with imaging or neuromuscular studies, then some researches have suggested that chronic pain may be a result of learned behavior resulting from some initial injury. Some patients may have psychological symptoms that occur as a result of their pain, and may even predispose patients to pain long after a lesion should have reasonably healed.
However, there are many physical syndromes that are associated with chronic vertebral pain. These include degenerative changes in the bones of the vertebrae, caused by osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. There are a number of other rheumatologic diseases, including ankylosing spondylitis, that can contribute to chronic vertebral pain. Some musculoskeletal disorders may initially seem to be the result of vertebral pain.
Fibromyalgia is a significant cause of disability and may manifest as back pain. Mechanical causes of vertebral pain can be the result of trauma or overuse. Poor posture and excess weight also predispose patients to wear and tear resulting in vertebral pain. When the discs and cartilage between the vertebrae degenerate, the patient will experience bone on bone, without a cushion for movement. This results in significant pain. It may result in spondolisthesis, or a vertebral body slipping forward onto the one below. Compression fractures may occur without injury in patients who have osteoporosis or metastatic cancer. The facet joints of the vertebrae may degenerate, and bone spurs can also develop in the vertebral column. Any of these conditions may result in not only bone pain, but pain from inflammation or impingement on one of the nerves that exit the spinal column through openings in the areas of articulation of the vertebrae. Spinal stenosis can be a particularly severe form of pain that results from narrowing of the opening through which the spinal cord travels, impinging on the nerve. Abnormalities or deformities of the alignment of the vertebrae will also put stress on other parts of the spine, resulting in more rapid degeneration and the potential for bone, muscular, or nerve pain. Some surgeries, such as spinal fusion, may result in stress on other portions of the vertebral column, causing rapid degeneration.
The figures below represent some potentially painful conditions of the vertebral column. If you are suffering from vertebral pain, you are at risk for further injury or complication if you ignore your symptoms. If you are suffering from vertebral pain, you should call for a consultation with a spine pain specialist today. We offer weekday and weekend appointments. You can find us at our conveniently located clinics in West Orange, Aberdeen, and Lyndhurst.