SMi Source Lesson Neurology: Lower Back Pain

  • SMi Source lesson Neurology: Lower Back Pain has the following microlearning topics

  • 1. Introduction to Low Back Pain

    2. Structure of the Spine

    3. Conditions Causing Low Back Pain

    4. Principles of Treatment: Acute vs Chronic

  • Lesson Neurology: Lower Back Pain teaches these concepts

  • Introduction to Low Back Pain

    Introduction to Low Back Pain, Acute vs Chronic

    Introduction to Low Back Pain, Nociceptive vs Neuropathic

    Introduction to Low Back Pain, Local vs Referred

  • Lesson Neurology: Lower Back Pain addresses these key points

  • Low back pain:

    • Affects 4 out of 5 Americans at some point in their lives
    • Most common disability for those between 19 and 45
    • 2nd most common cause of work absence
    • Treatment cost > $80 billion per year
    • Disability claims > $8 billion per year

    Low back pain:

    • Not a single disease
    • Set of symptoms may be due to any of a number of conditions
    • In many sufferers, a discrete cause is never identified

    One of the most important pain classification divisions is the duration of pain.

    Acute low back pain:

    • Short-term, usually lasting no more than one month
    • Result of an injury or illness
    • Disappears after treated and damaged tissue has healed

    Chronic low back pain:

    • Pain lasting longer than 3 months
    • May be due to long-term incurable or intractable medical condition
    • May last for years

    One important classification of pain distinguishes nociceptive from neuropathic pain.

    Nociceptive pain:

    • Part of the normal function of the nervous system

    Neuropathic pain:

    • Results from injury to or impairment of nerves

    Common type of neuropathic low back pain:

    • Sciatica


    • Caused by injury to the sciatic nerve, or one of its branches
    • Pain may be experienced anywhere along the nerve
    • Nerve may be injured by a fall, by a mechanical problem in the spine such as a herniated disc, or by a tumor

    The location of injury may be the same as or different from the location where pain is felt.

    Local pain:

    • Originates at site where felt

    Low back pain is local pain if its source is in: 

    • Bone
    • Muscle
    • Connective tissue of the lower back

    Referred pain:

    • Originates at site remote from where felt
    • Happens because some groups of sensory neurons from different anatomical sites share the same segments of the spinal cord to the brain
    • Pain caused by disease in the kidneys, bladder, prostate gland, or uterus
  • Lesson Neurology: Lower Back Pain is built from these main references. Log into SMi Source for a complete list and details.

  • Pain: Current Understanding of Assessment, Management, and Treatments.  National Pharmaceutical Council, Inc.  Dec 2001.

    The Merck Manual of Medical Information, 2nd Home Edition. 

    Human Anatomy & Physiology, 6th ed.  EN Marieb, 2004.

    Ehrlich GE: Low Back Pain.  Bulletin of the World Health Organization 2003, 81 (9).