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Different Patterns of Back Pain

Do patients with different low back problems have different amounts of pain?

According to a recent study, patients with different diagnoses have very different patterns of pain. Researchers asked 750 patients to rate their back and leg pain on a scale from zero (no pain) to 100 (the worst pain).

Patients with herniated discs had minor back pain but strong leg pain. Patients with narrowing around the spinal canal ("stenosis") had moderate back pain and strong leg pain. Patients whose vertebrae had dislodged and were pressing forward ("spondylolisthesis") had moderate back pain and minor leg pain. Patients who had degenerative disc disease had the most back pain of all the groups and minor leg pain.

Doctors were surprised just how distinct the patterns of pain were. Different patterns of pain may call for different kinds of treatment.