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How Is Mechanical Back Pain Unique from Other Kinds of Back Pain?

What is mechanical back pain, and what makes it different from other kinds of back pain? Learn about the causes and treatments for mechanical pain here.

Back pain is one of the most commonly-reported “lifestyle” ailments. Experts estimate that about 80% of the population will experience some form of back pain during their lifetime.  

Whether you’re sitting and enjoying your favorite cup of hot chocolate or bending down to pick up your toddler, back pain can become a way of life. Depending on your daily activities, your backache could be “mechanical” rather than inflammatory pain, but what does that mean? 

Here’s what you need to know about mechanical back pain and how to treat it. 

What is Mechanical Back Pain?

When there is a disruption to the function of your spine, ligaments, or the tissue between vertebrae, you could have mechanical back pain. This can happen with repetitive movements, like heavy lifting or sitting for long periods throughout your workday. 

If you experience low back pain or lumbago without a history of cancer or other non-mechanical health issues, there’s a good chance the cause of your pain is mechanical. Mechanical back pain is often a symptom of other problems starting with your spine and surrounding tissues. 

What Are the Symptoms?

The first symptom of mechanical back issues is a pain in the low back or other areas near the spine. You might also feel stiff or struggle to twist from side to side or bend over without pain or restricted movements. Pain can spread from your spine through your thighs and buttocks. 

If you have back pain that lasts from four to six weeks with no prior history of back problems, you could have a mechanical back issue. See your doctor to rule out any more serious causes, like a slipped disc or other trauma to the spine.

In many cases, it’s difficult to determine a single specific cause for mechanical pain. Your pain can be a combination of poor posture, long-time overuse or repetitive motions, or inactivity. 

What Do I Do About It?

Unless your back pain is a result of trauma or a specific injury, mechanical back pain won’t require surgery. Your doctor can recommend over the counter pain medication, like ibuprofen, to ease your symptoms. In more severe cases, a prescription for NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) can provide more relief. 

Depending on the severity of your pain, exercise can also help. Consult your doctor or a physical therapist for stretches or specific exercises to help ease muscle tension and improve flexibility in your low back. Alternating heat and ice can also help ease pain and help fight muscle spasms. 

Don’t Live With Mechanical Back Pain!

Mechanical back pain is a reversible, treatable condition. There’s no need to live with the pain of tense muscles or stiff ligaments in your back. Back pain can impact your lifestyle and your ability to get out and enjoy what Seattle has to offer for dining and entertainment! 

Consult a doctor and follow these simple treatment recommendations to help treat the symptoms of low back pain. Did you find this information helpful? Be sure to read more of our Lifestyle blogs!


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