The backache is a common disorder; think that at least 8 Italians out of 10 have suffered from it. Dr. Stefano Respizzi, Director of the Department of Rehabilitation and Functional Recovery in Humanitas, spoke about back pain and the different types of pain that can affect the column in an interview with Obiettivo benessere on Radio 24.

“Many patients are worried about back pain, but this disorder should not be perceived as disabling, because in most cases it is absolutely manageable. Therefore it is good not to underestimate the symptoms, but without being alarmed,” emphasized Dr. Respizzi.


Three types of pain

First of all, it is necessary for the patient to understand what type of pain he is experiencing; in fact, we distinguish three types of pain in the spine:


  • A simple pain as if there was a bar resting on the back, therefore localized to the back and with rigidity. This is a musculoskeletal pain.


  • A pain that the patient describes as burning, heat: this is neuropathic pain, with involvement of sensitive nerve roots.


  • An irradiated pain, which radiates from the loins to the buttocks and thighs, up to the foot; it signals a probable radiculopathy, that is the suffering of a nervous root and could lead to the suspicion of a disc hernia.


When should I contact my doctor?

“If the episode of low back pain resolves spontaneously in 3-4 days, it does not require investigation. If, on the other hand, the episodes are repeated and begin to be 3 or 4 within one or two months, the disorder is becoming frequent and therefore it is advisable to undergo a medical examination. In the first instance, the general practitioner can also be contacted and will decide whether to refer the patient to a specialist (physiatrist, orthopedist or neurosurgeon).

In the event of suspicious signals, the practitioner will decide what checks to perform. It should be noted that in most cases an x-ray of the lumbar spine is sufficient; the recommendation also comes from the Italian Society of Radiology, which suggests not exaggerating with the instrumental examinations.

In the presence of certain symptoms, which we specialists call red flags, the second level examinations are indicated, such as CT scans and magnetic resonance imaging,” said Dr. Respizzi.