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Does Back Pain Last Forever?

Learn if you can ever completely get rid of back pain from physical therapist Eric Sampson in this Howcast video.


"Does back pain last forever?" is a common asked question, and it really depends on what tissue was injured during the event. If you're injuring a muscle, for instance, a strain to a muscle, muscles have a fair chance of regenerating or healing properly and not returning. If you break a bone, bones, if they're diagnosed correctly and treated correctly, they can also heal very well. They have good blood supply and you can get out of trouble and not have it return.

The problem is that most of the patients that go to physical therapy are dealing with a soft tissue injury, meaning the joint capsules of the spine have been damaged or the disc has been degenerated or the disc has been damaged, and the reality is those tissues do not regenerate. They're soft tissue, they're not muscle, and like a tire on your car, once it starts to wear, you have to replace it or you could get a flat. In the spine, we're not going to replace these tissues quite frequently, so you're really left with some damage to the tissue. It can heal, in terms of the pain can go away or reduce. But the tissue itself is still inherently damaged, and the recurrence rate therefore, of back pain, is very high, over 80 percent. It's recurring in nature.

So you can have these episodes. You can feel good from time to time, but unfortunately, it will rear its ugly head again. Now, with the proper management of a soft tissue injury, you can reduce the pain and manage it with some various amounts of success, but it's very tricky and often requires a very skilled clinician to achieve that goal.

So, does back pain last forever? Well, technically, yes, if we're not treating it right. How bad depends on what you're doing for it.

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