Mechanical Spine Pain and Spine-Related Disorders

What conditions are considered "spine-related disorders"?

Spine-related disorders (SRDs) are one of the most common, costly, and disabling conditions in Western society. SRDs are defined as a group of conditions that include back pain, neck pain, many types of headaches, radiculopathy, and other symptoms directly related to the spine. Virtually 100% of the population will experience a SRD at some point in their lives.

What is mechanical spine pain?

In primary care, physicians and other healthcare providers see the following causes of back pain:
  • 2-7% - Herniated disc
  • 4% - Compression fractures
  • 3% - Spondylolisthesis (slipping of one vertebrae on top of another, either forward or backward)
  • 0.7% - Malignancy or cancer
  • 0.3% - Ankylosing spondylitis (autoimmune inflammatory disorder)
  • 0.01% - Spinal infections
  • 85-90% - Non-specific or mechanical back pain

Mechanical spine pain is typically located in a non-specific pattern in the area of the back that is painful (whether it is the neck, the mid-back, or the lower back and "hips"). Certain twisting/shifting movements can cause pain to radiate into the buttocks and hamstring area, but not below the knee. The majority of mechanical spine pain is acute (sudden) and subacute (between sudden onset and 3 month duration) in nature, but occasionally patients do present with long-standing or chronic (pain for 3+ months) mechanical pain symptoms. On the bright side, if you are diagnosed with acute or subacute (or even chronic) mechanical spine pain, there are effective treatment options to provide you with typically rapid improvements in pain and disability.