May 16, 2024

What Is Vertebrogenic Low Back Pain?

Woman holding her lower back

Vertebrogenic low back pain is a specific type of chronic back pain caused by damage to vertebral endplates. Endplates are areas made of cartilage at the top and bottom of vertebrae that contact the rubbery discs between them.

How do doctors diagnose and treat vertebrogenic low back pain? Get answers to that and other related questions in this article.

What Does Vertebrogenic Back Pain Feel Like?

People experiencing vertebrogenic back pain notice it along the midline of their spine in the lower part of their back. It’s a deep burning or aching sensation that tends to intensify when they:

  • Bend forward
  • Sit for long periods
  • Are physically active

The pain may be independent of or related to disc degeneration. When associated with a degenerative disc, it may be accompanied by tingling, numbness, and weakness.

Vertebrogenic Back Pain: Causes and Diagnosis

Several physical characteristics and behaviors can increase the likelihood of endplate damage leading to vertebrogenic back pain, including:

  • Being tall or obese
  • Trauma or injuries to the lower back
  • Smoking
  • Family history of chronic back pain
  • Physically demanding jobs
  • Everyday wear and tear on the lower back

Doctors diagnose vertebrogenic back pain in several different ways. They typically start with a physical exam. This includes asking about your symptoms, feeling your spine, and asking you to move in various ways while reporting any pain.

Next, they generally prescribe imaging tests, starting with a spine X-ray. They may also order a CT (computed tomography) or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan. Imaging can reveal damage to the endplates and other structures and inflammation in the bone marrow.

Treating Vertebrogenic Back Pain

If your doctor diagnoses you with vertebrogenic back pain, they’ll prescribe one or more treatments that can include:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Medications like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, etc.), naproxen (Aleve and others), and aspirin (like Bayer) can help reduce your back pain.
  • Physical therapy. A physical therapist can teach you various stretches and exercises focused on relieving back pain that you can do at home.
  • Muscle relaxers. You can use these prescription medications for short-term pain relief. They’re not a long-term solution because they cause drowsiness and can create physical dependence.
  • Basivertebral nerve ablation. If non-surgical treatments don’t provide relief after six months, your doctor may recommend this procedure. It intentionally damages the basivertebral nerve to stop it from sending pain signals.

How to Reduce the Risk of Vertebrogenic Back Pain

While vertebrogenic back pain can’t be prevented entirely, you can take steps to reduce the likelihood of it developing. For example, regular exercise (including exercises that strengthen your core muscles) is helpful. Being active may also help you maintain a healthy weight.

Breaking up long periods of sitting with stretching exercises can be beneficial. And you should avoid smoking.

Get Help from Baptist Health with Low Back Pain

Low back pain is common and can adversely affect your quality of life. It’s also treatable in various ways.

If you have vertebrogenic or any type of back pain, Baptist Health can help. Talk with your primary care doctor about your symptoms and treatment options. If you don’t have a Baptist Health physician, you can find one in our online provider directory.

Learn More.