Chronic Versus Acute Back Pain

March 23, 2016

Everyone suffers from a sore or aching back from time to time. Whether you spent a day loading furniture into the back of a moving van, tweaked it in a game of pickup basketball, or had a long, stressful day of driving, the symptoms can be the same: a dull or even sharp ache that can spasm with the wrong movement. However, these types of back pains can be minimal compared to the pain that someone suffers from a bad accident such as a fall, a work-related injury around heavy machinery or equipment, or an auto wreck. The pain that one of these victims faces can be debilitating for weeks, months, years, or indefinitely. If you have suffered a serious back injury from another person’s reckless actions, contact an experienced Columbia, South Carolina, personal injury attorney today to discuss the legal options you would like to pursue.

Acute Back Pain

According to Spine Health, acute back pain is pain that lasts for less than three to six months or pain that is directly caused by tissue damage. In addition to pain, symptoms may also include stiffness and lack of range of motion, as well as difficulty standing up straight. The more serious the injury and the worse recovery the patient takes, the longer acute pain lasts. Acute low back pain is the most common place for the back to hurt, and according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, low back pain is the second most common reason that Americans visit their healthcare provider, after the flu. Causes of acute back pain are most likely sudden jolts, impacts, or movements, though acute pain can also be caused by a repetitive motion or sitting or lying in an awkward position for a long period of time. The physical damage is to the muscles or ligaments, and the longer acute pain lasts, the more likely that it will turn into chronic pain. This influences the patient’s mood, anxiety, and thoughts about the injury; increases the neurological signals of pain even if there is longer any tissue damage present; and decreases the patient’s desire to exercise, which puts them into further physical decline.

Chronic Back Pain

Chronic pain is pain that lasts over three to six months. There are two types of chronic back pain. The first is pain that is being caused by actual damage to the tissue, discs, or ligaments (from the initial injury). Chronic pain can be caused by many of the same movements or accidents that acute pain is caused by, such as overuse at work or in normal life, from a surgery, or from injuries and fractures. A herniated disk is one of the more common serious back injuries, and consists of the spinal disk being pushed into nearby nerves. Additionally, when these disks lose their fluid over time and with overuse, they become thin and brittle, which causes pain and poor mobility. Another condition is called spinal stenosis, which occurs when the space between the spinal cord and spinal nerves becomes narrowed. The second type of chronic back pain is caused by no identifiable generator, meaning there is no injury present, yet the pain persists. This is referred to as chronic benign back pain. An injury that was once healed may have set up a pain pathway with the nervous system, which stays after the actual damage is healed. The pain is the problem itself, not damage to the body.

If you have been injured on the job, in a car accident, or from an unsafe premises slip and fall or other accident, contact an experienced South Carolina personal injury attorney today at the law offices of The Connell Law Firm, LLC.