3 conditions that can cause spinal pain

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3 conditions that can cause spinal pain

You know you have a shooting pain in your spine, but what’s now important is to figure out what’s causing it. It can be near impossible to treat or manage pain properly if you don’t know why it’s happening.

Sometimes it can be tempting to just go with the first answer you can find, whether it’s the right one or not. However, it’s essential you know so you and your doctor know how it can be managed.


Fibromyalgia can be enough of a burden on its own, but the condition often comes along with other painful conditions, and which is to blame for a specific ache or shooting pain can be difficult to know.

Back pain is common in fibromyalgia, but there are also other conditions that you might be suffering from that is causing the pain that you’re feeling. Fibromyalgia can cause shooting pain in the spine, but another condition that you might have could also be causing it.

Fibromyalgia is characterized by widespread pain that commonly involves the muscles or the joints, but can affect any area of the body. It results in back pain and muscle pain, a feeling of general fatigue, and specific tender areas.

Despite having multiple spots that are tender to palpation, called “tender points,” the patient will have a normal neurological exam that gives no clue as to what is happening. Tender points are specific spots on the body and when pressure is put on these points, it causes pain.

In addition to pain, individuals with fibromyalgia often experience other symptoms as well, including sleep fatigue, other difficulties with sleep, and difficulties with memory and concentration.

The syndrome most commonly affects middle-age women who are otherwise healthy, but it can affect men and children, as well as women of various ages.

Fibromyalgia symptoms

  • Pain all over
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep difficulties
  • Brain fog
  • Morning stiffness
  • Muscle knots, cramping, weakness
  • Digestive disorders
  • Headaches/migraines
  • Balance problems
  • Itchy/burning skin

Fibromyalgia treatment

The diverse symptoms of fibromyalgia will often mean that treatment will be best handled by a team of healthcare professionals. Physicians who treat fibromyalgia typically include family doctors, general internists, or rheumatologists who are specialists in rheumatic conditions.

Treatment for the syndrome may include one or a combination of the following options:

  • Massage or injections of lidocaine may be used to help relieve the pain in tender spots
  • Non-narcotic pain medications (e.g. acetaminophen)
  • Low-impact aerobic conditioning
  • Antidepressants (e.g. Amytriptiline), both for help with sleeping and to alleviate the pain

Myofascial pain syndrome

Fibromyalgia and myofascial pain syndrome often go together. Because of the frequent overlap and some similar symptoms, they’re often mistaken for the same condition and, as a result, people with both are sometimes only diagnosed with and treated for one.

Myofascial pain syndrome is a chronic pain disorder. Like fibromyalgia, myofascial pain involves trigger points. However, this is “referred pain.” In myofascial pain syndrome, unlike fibromyalgia, pressure on sensitive points in your muscles causes pain in remote and seemingly unrelated parts of your body.

Myofascial pain syndrome typically occurs after a muscle has been contracted repetitively. This can be caused by repetitive motions used in jobs or hobbies or by stress-related muscle tension.

While there is no known anatomical reason for the syndrome, it is believed that there might be underlying biochemical causes.

Myofascial pain symptoms

Signs and symptoms of myofascial pain syndrome can include:

  • Deep, aching pain in a muscle
  • Pain that persists or worsens
  • A tender knot in a muscle
  • Difficulty sleeping due to pain

Myofascial pain treatment

Treatment for myofascial pain syndrome often includes physical therapy, medications and/or trigger point injections. No conclusive evidence supports using one therapy over another. Discuss your options and treatment preferences with your doctor. You may need to try more than one approach to find pain relief.

Cervical myelopethy

The syndrome that results from a disorder in the spinal cord that disrupts or interrupts the normal transmission of the neural signals is called a “myelopathy”. The “cervical” portion of the term refers to the cervical or neck portion of the spinal column.

Therefore, nervous dysfunction in the cervical area will have an effect on the entire body, and involve the arms, hands, legs and bowel and bladder function.

Cervical myelopathy and fibromyalgia have a number of symptoms in common.  Fibromyalgia can be incorrectly diagnosed in some patients who actually have cervical myelopathy or perhaps that cervical spinal cord dysfunction is the underlying cause of the fibromyalgia syndrome.

Cervical myelopathy symptoms

Symptoms can include numbness, weakness or clumsiness in your hands, weakness in your arms, stiffness in the legs which causes awkwardness in walking, loss of balance, and urinary urgency. Neck pain may also be present but is frequently not a significant complaint.

The timing of the appearance of symptoms and their progression is also highly variable from patient to patient. The rate of progression of an individual’s symptoms may change over time, with periods of relatively rapid change interspersed with periods of stability or minimal progression.

Although the rate of progression of the recent past can serve as an indicator for the near future, it isn’t a certainty and can’t be taken as a guarantee of how the syndrome will progress.

Cervical myelopathy treatment

The key to the treatment of cervical myelopathy is to remove the pressure from the spinal cord, which requires surgery. The surgery is meant to prevent progression and improvement of your current situation may or may not result. You’ll need to discuss your prognosis with your surgeon prior to making a decision to have surgery.

There are other conditions or syndromes that can cause spinal pain and these are just three of them. It might be necessary to investigate further to find the underlying cause of your pain. It’s essential that you and your doctor know the correct diagnosis for you, so that you’ll be able to correctly manage your symptoms.

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