Unexplained back pain: what to do?

Almost everyone experiences back pain at some point. The pain is usually in the lower back and disappears after a period of time. In most cases it is not possible to determine exactly what the cause of the back pain is. This is also called non-specific back pain. Back pain is a complicated condition and is often influenced by your thoughts and behavior. Many people think they have something seriously wrong, but in reality that is almost never the case. It is better to just keep moving, even though it is often thought that back pain is a sign to rest.

Pain in lower back

Everyone experiences back pain at some point in their lives. It is usually located in the lower back and can hinder you considerably. Many people think that there is a clear physical cause for the complaints, but when they go to the doctor, no clear diagnosis can be made. Pain is seen by some as a direct response to a physical stimulus, but that does not always have to be the case. Pain is also influenced by thoughts, feelings and behavior. There are people who adapt their entire daily lives to back pain. They think they should avoid exercise until the pain has gone, which actually makes the symptoms worse.

Non-specific low back pain

If no clear cause is found that explains the back pain, it is also called non-specific back pain. Because it usually affects the lower back, it is called non-specific low back pain. The doctor will sometimes call it overload, lumbago or perhaps lumbago. There is no explanation for the pain due to a specific damage or abnormality. The pain can be very severe and come back again and again. It can also radiate to the legs. It can shoot in the back due to an unexpected movement, but it can also develop gradually. It can be difficult to get out of bed and do your daily tasks.

Duration of the pain

Almost everyone experiences back pain at some point. Sometimes it disappears after a few days and sometimes the complaints persist for a longer period of time. There are also people who always suffer from lower back pain. There are also people who occasionally experience periods of pain. The intensity may vary. Pain is sometimes very complicated because it is an interplay of physical signals and your feelings. How you feel, how you think and how you deal with pain all play a role.

Experience of pain

Behavior plays a major role in dealing with back pain. Not only your own behavior, but also that of those around you. If everyone tells you how bad it is, your experience of pain may increase. Back pain is an unpleasant experience in which emotions play a role. If you think you have damage in your back, you will adjust your behavior accordingly. Maybe you don’t want to exercise anymore, even though that is not always a wise choice.

An example

If you hurt your back at home, you may be shocked and feel a lot of pain. The pain suddenly comes on when
you want to lift something or make a wrong movement. You are afraid that you may have suffered a hernia. You take it easy and the pain has a big impact. If the same thing happens just before an important football match, you will ignore the pain and participate anyway. You want to participate so much that you hardly experience the pain.

Misconceptions about back pain

Some people quickly think that there is something seriously wrong with them. They think something is very wrong. In most cases there is no abnormality or damage and there is rarely a serious condition. By avoiding exercise you will hinder recovery. Just try to keep moving as much as possible and carry out your daily activities.

A clear cause

In a rare number of cases there is something serious, for example a hernia. The nerve has become pinched and this can ultimately lead to paralysis symptoms. Usually no clear cause is found and it is a harmless strain of the muscles or ligaments of the spine. Sometimes people do not feel taken seriously by the doctor if nothing is found and they think they are being labeled as a poser. That is not the case. A general practitioner sees many people with back problems and in most cases cannot find a clear cause.


Even if no clear cause is found, treatment can still be given. A big misunderstanding is to think that the back is seriously damaged and the fear of becoming disabled by still moving. Of course you should first go to the doctor to rule out that something serious is going on, but if the doctor cannot find anything, it is better to keep moving. Even if the pain is nagging or severe, you should still try to keep moving. Because the proverb ‘rest rust’ is there for a reason. A person is naturally inclined to avoid pain and sees pain as a sign that something is wrong. If your doctor has diagnosed you with non-specific back pain, you can assume that you can move your back normally. Exercise promotes recovery and the complaints will sometimes disappear within a few days.

read more

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