What It Means When You Have A Burning Sensation In Your Back

Having back pain of any kind can put a damper on your day and make it difficult to focus on getting anything done. If you experience a burning sensation in your back, you may understandably be concerned as to why it's there. Your burning sensation could be due to a number of different factors, and it's helpful to learn about how the uncomfortable burning sensation manifests in the body in the first place. 

The spine is divided into four sections, including the cervical spine, thoracic spine, lumbar spine, and sacrum and coccyx, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. These areas contain bones called vertebrae that protect the spinal cord, which is a collection of nerve fibers that pass through the spinal canal. The vertebrae are stabilized by ligaments, while intervertebral discs sit between the vertebrae. Your back also contains muscles that facilitate movement, and these muscles are connected to bone by tendons. 

A burning sensation in your back can mean something has gone awry and your body's nervous system is sending you signals to make you aware, as explained by Cleveland Clinic. It's important to keep track of any additional symptoms that may provide further insight into your burning sensation. These symptoms could include fever, cough, and pain in other areas of the body. Burning sensations in the back can be a symptom of many conditions, like arthritis, arachnoiditis, adult scoliosis, herniated disc, and more. 

Burning sensations in the upper back

Depending on the underlying cause of your burning sensation, you can feel pain in both your upper back and lower back. Periods of high stress can accumulate tension in the upper back, neck, and shoulders, triggering a burning sensation in these areas, as described by K Health

Individuals with a herniated disc in the upper region of their spine can feel burning sensations in their upper back and shoulder area. In addition, lifting heavy objects and engaging in strenuous exercise can damage the nerves in your muscles and lead to burning sensations in the upper back. Pain and burning in the upper back may also occur as a result of spinal misalignment from an injury, car accident, or poor posture, according to The Bonati Institute

Spinal stenosis can be associated with burning sensations in the upper back. The condition occurs when the spinal canal narrows and puts stress on the spinal cord. It can be brought on by aging or spinal injuries. Nerve compression from bone spurs on the spine is an additional factor that causes neck pain, burning sensations, and numbness in the upper back, as explained by Healthline

Burning sensations in the lower back

You can also experience burning sensations in the lower back, which can be indicative of a variety of conditions. For example, it can sometimes be a symptom of multiple sclerosis (MS), according to HealthMatch. Like the upper back, burning pain in the lower back can be a sign of a herniated disc. Sciatica, another source of burning pain in the lower back, can develop due to a herniated disc or spinal stenosis that puts pressure on the sciatic nerve. Those with sciatica may experience numbness and weakness in one leg, as well as worsened symptoms when they sit down or bend over, as described by Spine-Health

In some cases, kidney stones can cause burning in the lower back that extends to the groin area and is accompanied by cramping. As explained by Alliance Physical Therapy Partners, cervical arthritis is another condition where burning sensations in the lower back can be an identifying symptom. 

If you're experiencing persistent burning sensations in your back, it's important to reach out to your doctor so they can run diagnostic tests to determine the cause. Physical therapy, over-the-counter medications, and prescription medications may alleviate burning sensations in the back, as noted by Healthline. Burning sensations in the back can sometimes be caused by a spinal tumor, which will typically require surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. Individuals who are experiencing burning sensations from herniated discs, spinal stenosis, and bone spurs may also require surgery.