Dear Wanting a Diagnosis:
If you have the most common type of low back pain—known as non-specific back pain (NSBP)—then, the answer is a frustratingly hum-drum: “No, not specifically.”
Also known as a back strain, sprain, mechanical pain, or lumbago, NSBP makes up the vast majority—about 90%—of all low back pain cases (Maher 2017).
The catch-all name is vague for a reason: It covers all low back pain cases that evade another exact diagnosis (like a radiculopathy or spinal stenosis). Possible culprits causing NSBP could include any one or combination of the following: a muscle (strain), a ligament (sprain), or the intervertebral discs and joints of the spine (wear-and-tear changes).
While the inability to isolate a reason for NSBP might be irritating, the good news is: The specific cause usually does not matter! The fix for NSBP is almost always the same—and likely effective. With a combination of body re-education, core strengthening, and lifestyle modifications (like sleep optimization, diet enhancement, and stress reduction), the chances of healing are high (Maher 2017).
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