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Back Problems Message Board

Back Problems Board Index

Welcome to the board.

I would agree that it is much more common to hold pain in the shoulders and neck. Lower back pain is more commonly caused from slumping while sitting and poor posture in general, or the usual causes like lifting wrong, lifting something too heavy, carrying something improperly, etc.

Just for your general knowledge, an annular tear can be very painful...and it is also one of those things that some doctors will say "could not be causing the pain."

As you probably know, the disc is composed of a soft nucleus that is pressurized, and the annulus which is like a series of tough concentric fibrous material, similar to a belted radial tire. As we age the annulus begins to dry out and weaken, and it loses its ability to contain the nucleus. (This is particularly common in our 40s.) If this happens, the nucleus can rip through the annulus, resulting in an annular tear. This can release biochemicals from the nucleus out onto the sinuvertebral nerve fibers contained in the annulus. But this does usually result in pain at or near the site of the disc.

In addition to SI joint problems, or instead of, you might have piriformis syndrome. The piriformis is a strong muscle that runs across the buttocks from the sacrum to an attachment over near the hip. It runs directly over the top of the sciatic nerve. Sometimes in some people, the sciatic nerve runs through the piriformis muscle. So any time the piriformis is inflamed it can cause sciatic type nerve pain. After my fusion (L3-S1) I developed terrible pain that I thought was hip bursitis or something going on in my hip. Turns out it was my piriformis.

One thing to consider: walking on a treadmill can aggravate any of these type of symptoms due to its repetitious nature. It is much better to walk outside or indoors on a flat surface. The footfalls are less aggravating to the spine when walking naturally. Surgeons who know something about movement don't let their spine surgery patients use a treadmill for rehab.

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