The Difference Between Inflammatory and Mechanical Back Pain

Back Infections in Los Angeles, CA

Most people experience some type of lumbar discomfort during their lives. In fact, back pain is often the most common reason that individuals seek medical assistance and miss work. The problems that patients often experience tend to stem from either inflammatory or mechanical factors.

Inflammatory Pain

Ankylosing Spondylitis is the primary condition that contributes to inflammatory back pain. It is a type of arthritis that causes swelling around the joints of the spine that can eventually lead to unnatural bone growths and fusion of the vertebrae. In severe cases, the fused portions can cause the spine to fix into a forward bend, or kyphosis. Generally, the onset begins before age 35, and involvement begins in the sacroiliac joints where the spinal column meets the bones of the pelvis.

Pain and stiffness is usually worse in the morning and improves once activity begins and the day moves on. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications are other non-invasive spine treatments are often helpful in alleviating discomfort.

Mechanical Pain

Mechanical back pain refers to any spinal problems that are caused by trauma, degenerative conditions or strain to the vertebral column and its surrounding structures.¬†Fractures and bulging discs that are caused by an injury account for some of the instances, and having bad posture and practicing poor body mechanics contributes to a large portion of spinal problems. Degenerative disc disease causes the vertebrae to wear away and lose their natural position resulting in nerve compression. Fractures in the spinal column precipitating from osteoporosis can also create changes in the spine’s integrity leading to pinched nerves.

Mechanical pain most common cause of lumbar discomfort in the population, and unlike inflammatory conditions, the pain lessens at night and worsens during the day as activity increases. Over-the-counter pain medications may help some patients, but, often, more aggressive therapies may be required such as physical therapy, prescription drugs or spine surgery.

Finding a Personalized Solution

If you are living with long-term back pain, whether inflammatory or mechanical, it may be time to schedule an appointment with a spine specialist like Dr. Bae. Along with conservative treatment options, Dr. Bae is a leader in minimally invasive spine surgery and motion-preserving spine technologies. Call (310) 828-7757 and request an in-person consultation today.