Types of Back Pain

Types of Back Pain

If you are experiencing back pain, there’s no need to panic. This ailment is quite common, and people even miss work for it. Back pain can be acute or chronic, and sometimes it can cause discomfort in other parts of your body. However, regardless of the type of pain you are experiencing, you can get adequate treatment.

This article explores different types of back pain and how physiotherapy in Richmond can help. Kindly read along.

What Are The Types Of Back Pain?

There are different types of back pain, and understanding them can help your doctor make a diagnosis and develop an adequate treatment plan. Types of back pain include;

Acute Back Pain

If you feel a sudden pain in your back, it is acute. Acute back pain is short-term and should relieve you within a few days to weeks. This back pain usually occurs when you experience an injury or strain on your back muscles and ligaments. For instance, muscle spasms and strains are the primary cause of acute back pain. 

Subacute Back Pain

Subacute back pain can occur suddenly or gradually and usually lasts between 4 and 12 weeks. Prolonged joint or muscle pain is a primary cause. You may need treatment or therapy for pain relief.

Chronic Back Pain

If your back pain persists for more than 12 weeks, it is chronic. Chronic back pain may feel like a dull ache, a burning sensation, or tingling. It happens gradually and may signify complex issues like arthritis or degenerative disc disease. In addition, age and improper posture can cause chronic back pain.

Neuropathic Pain

This chronic type of back pain results from damage or irritation to the spine's nerves. You may feel a shooting or burning sensation. Injuries, diabetes, or conditions like herniated discs are primary causes of neuropathic back pain.

Mechanical Pain

Back pain that affects the physical structure of your spine is mostly referred to as mechanical pain. Issues with your spinal joints, soft tissues, discs, or vertebrae can result in mechanical pain. This type of pain mostly affects your lower back, but it may spread to your buttocks and thighs. 

Referred Pain

When you feel pain in your back that originates from another area of your body, it is known as referred back pain. You may also feel this pain in your groin, buttocks, and upper thighs. Problems in your kidney, liver, or gallbladder can cause referred back pain.

Radicular Pain

A compression or inflammation of a nerve root from your spine can cause radicular pain. This type of pain often feels like a sharp, shooting pain traveling down the back of your legs. Also, radicular pain can worsen when you carry out certain activities, like coughing or sneezing.

What Are The Causes of Back Pain?

You can feel back pain due to several reasons, including the following;

Strains And Sprains

A sprain is an injury to your muscles or tendons, while a sprain is an injury to your ligaments. Sprains and strains are the primary causes of back pain, and they mostly result from overuse of the muscles. If you have poor posture, do heavy lifting, or carry out sudden movements, you may experience a sprain or a strain.

Degenerative Conditions

Degenerative conditions typically occur due to wear and tear and may worsen over time. Osteoarthritis and degenerative disc disease are common conditions that can affect the back and cause pain. Risk factors for these conditions include age, genetics, obesity, and diabetes.


You can sustain injuries to your back from traumatic events like accidents, falls, and sports impacts. These events can cause fractures, herniated discs, and tears. Injuries can result in acute or chronic pain, depending on their severity.  

Lifestyle Factors

Your lifestyle can also cause back pain. For instance, a sedentary lifestyle can weaken the muscles supporting your spine, making you prone to back pain. Stress and obesity are other lifestyle factors that can cause back pain.

When Should You See a Doctor for Back Pain?

Usually, back pain goes away on its own after a few days, especially with rest. However, you should see a doctor if your pain lasts more than two weeks and interferes with your daily activities. You also visit your doctor if you experience accompanying symptoms, like;

  • Loss of bladder or bowel control
  • Fever
  • Loss of strength in your arms and legs
  • Constant and intense pain, especially when you lie down
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Swelling or redness on your back 

How Can Physiotherapy Help with Back Pain?

Because there are different types of back pain, their treatments differ. Fortunately, your physiotherapist can examine your pain to identify the type and the cause. You will then undergo a comprehensive treatment plan tailored to your condition.

Here are the ways physiotherapy in New Westminster can help with your back pain;

Pain Management

Physiotherapy can help with pain relief and management, depending on the cause of your back pain. Your physiotherapist will massage and electrical stimulation to ease sore muscles, reduce inflammation, and relieve pain.

Improving Function

Back pain can limit mobility and function. Your physiotherapist can use targeted exercises to strengthen your back muscles and core. These exercises can also help support your spine and improve flexibility and range of motion.

Tailored Treatment Plans

As we mentioned earlier, there are different types of back pain, and treatment for one type will be different from that for others. Your physiotherapist will assess your back pain and its severity before diagnosing it. Your treatment plan will be tailored to your diagnosis, specific needs, and goals.

Furthermore, the treatment plan is progressive, and your physiotherapist will make necessary adjustments to suit your progress. 


Your physiotherapist will educate you on proper posture and ergonomics to prevent a recurrence of your back pain. You will also learn how to carry out your daily activities in proper spinal alignment to support your spine and maintain a healthy back.

What Physiotherapy Techniques Are Used for Back Pain?

Your physiotherapist can incorporate several techniques in your treatment plan to address your back pain. Some of these techniques include;

Heat And Cold Therapy

Your physiotherapist may use heat and cold to address your pain. This type of treatment usually involves alternating between heat and ice. Cold therapy contracts your blood vessels to reduce pain. Heat therapy, conversely, dilates the blood vessels in the injured area to boost circulation.

Manual Therapy

Manual therapy is a hands-on technique that involves mobilizing your soft tissues. It is not a painful treatment; instead, it involves gentle movements. This technique promotes flexibility and reduces pain. 

Therapeutic ExercisesPhysiotherapy in Surrey will include exercises in your treatment plan to address your back pain. These exercises can help stabilize your core muscles to alleviate back pain and prevent a recurrence. You may also undergo stretching and strengthening exercises, depending on your needs.

How To Prevent Back Pain

Although some types of back pain result from underlying medical conditions, you can still prevent back pain by following the tips discussed in this section. These tips can also help you prevent a recurrence after treatment. 

You can prevent back pain by;

Strengthening Your Core Muscles

Your lower back supports your upper body, and stress can cause back pain. Toning your core muscles can support your spine and reduce pressure on your lower back. Simple core exercises at home include partial crunches, wall sits, and bird-dog. Aerobic exercises, pilates, and lifting weights can also help strengthen your core.

Avoid Poor Posture

Poor posture, especially when sitting, can add more pressure to the discs of your lower spine. If you sit long, try getting up and walking around often. 

Also, when lifting heavy objects, maintain the right posture. Lift with your leg muscles rather than your back. Using the wrong posture can cause muscle spasms and pain. It is best to get help if an item is too heavy to lift alone.

Sleep Properly

Sleeping in the wrong position can also strain your back. If you sleep flat on your back, your spine can become tilted and stressed. To slightly elevate your knees, it is best to place a pillow under them.

In addition, if you sleep on your back, try placing a pillow between your knees to reduce the pressure on your back. 

Watch Your Weight

Extra weight, especially in your midsection, can worsen your pain. This is because the weight shifts your center of gravity and strains your lower back. Your back may also lose its support and develop an unnatural spine curvature.

Stretch Daily

Tight muscles in your back can stress your spine and lead to back pain. Stretching daily can help reduce muscle tension and prevent back pain. You can carry out daily stretches like hamstring, pelvic tilts, and knee-to-chest.


Back pain can affect anyone, especially those with age and bad posture. Understanding the different types of back pain can help with effective pain management and relief.

If you are experiencing back pain, it is ideal to visit your physiotherapist for an assessment and diagnosis. Fortunately, the physiotherapists at Cambie Physiotherapy are always ready to listen to you and create a treatment plan tailored to your specific needs.