Let’s identify your condition
If you’re in pain, one thing is true—there’s a condition causing that pain. Identifying that condition can be confusing. Our goal is to help you match your pain symptoms to the actual condition, because the more informed you are, the more empowered you’ll be to find a solution.
Facet joint pain
Facet joints are common sources of chronic back and neck pain.1 Like all joints, they go through wear and tear, causing pain as people age. Facet joints allow your vertebrae to move while keeping your spine properly aligned.
- Pain or tenderness in the lower back2
- Pain that increases with twisting at the waist or bending backward and extending the lower back2
- Pain that moves to the buttocks, hips or thighs with a deep, dull ache2
- Stiffness or difficulty with certain movements such as standing up straight or getting up out of a chair2
Vertebral compression fracture
VCFs have a substantial and negative impact on the quality of life and day-to-day functioning of those afflicted. Acute and chronic pain in the elderly is commonly attributed to vertebral compression fractures, often leading to further health deterioration or the "downward spiral" and a loss of independence. Because there is a substantial risk of subsequent fractures in persons who have had a vertebral compression fracture,3 it is important that VCFs are diagnosed and treated early.
The spine contains 33 individual bones called vertebra that are stacked one on top of the other to form the spinal column. Each vertebra in your spine is separated by flat, spongy discs that act as "shock absorbers" to keep the bones from rubbing together. When one of the discs is damaged, it may bulge or break open. This is called a herniated disc, which may also be referred to as a ruptured or slipped disc.
- Pain usually occurs in only one leg
- Pain may be described as dull or throbbing in the lower back and may include stiffness
- Pain in the lower back may come and go
- Pain may get worse when coughing, sneezing, laughing or with other sudden movement
- Pain may get worse from prolonged standing or sitting, walking a short distance and bending forward
- Tingling "pins-and-needles" sensation or numbness in one leg
- Weakness in the leg, foot and/or toes
- Pain in the leg that is often described as sharp and electric shock-like
Sacral insufficiency fracture
Back pain is sometimes caused by a sacral insufficiency fracture (SIF), an often-underdiagnosed condition in elderly patients that typically presents with severe low back pain, resulting in immobility. Too often, an SIF goes undiagnosed, meaning your real issue never gets solved. If you suspect that’s the reason for your pain, speak up and talk to your doctor.