Little-Known Causes of Back Pain

Nichelle Renk Pain Management Specialist Anchorage, AK

Dr. Nichelle C. Renk is a board-certified and fellowship-trained anesthesiologist and pain medicine specialist practicing in Anchorage, AK at the Algone Interventional Pain Clinic. Dr. Renk performs a thorough evaluation of a patient's symptoms, imaging, and physical exam to create an individualized plan for the patient.... more

Does low or mid back pain keep you up at night or keep you from getting or staying active the way you’d like? You’re not alone: Back pain affects nearly all adults at some point.

Back pain develops for some common reasons, such as a muscle strain, arthritis, a herniated disc, or your back pain might come from a lesser-known condition. 

Either way, at Alpenglow Pain & Wellness, board-certified interventional pain management specialist Dr. Nichelle C. Renk can diagnose the cause of your back pain and recommend treatment options that can really help. Dr. Renk welcomes new and existing patients at her office in Anchorage, Alaska. 

Uncommon causes of back pain

Here are some of the more uncommon causes of back pain, both chronic and acute, that Dr. Renk sees in her practice.

Spinal tumors

Your spine is a common source of back pain problems. Issues with your vertebrae (small bones) or the discs that support and cushion them, such as a herniated disc or spinal stenosis, are common causes of back pain.

Less commonly, back pain could indicate the presence of a spinal tumor. Spinal tumors usually develop as cancer in another part of your body metastasizes to the spine. 

If you start to experience back pain after being diagnosed with cancer, especially cancer in the lung, breast, prostate, thyroid, or kidney, you should be evaluated for a spinal tumor.


Bones in your spine can also become infected, a condition known as osteomyelitis. Spinal infection can result in severe pain. Without treatment, spinal infection can be fatal.

To treat spinal infection, it’s necessary to surgically remove portions of spinal bone that have died or are infected. Intravenous (IV) antibiotics can then deal with fighting off the infection.

You’re more likely to develop a spinal infection if you have a compromised immune system. Spinal infections can be contracted through injections, bloodstream spread, or as a complication of surgical procedures.

Autoimmune conditions

Chronic autoimmune conditions like ankylosing spondylitis, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, fibromyalgia, and lupus often come with chronic back pain. Chronic pain lasts for six months or more. It may come and go, but your chronic condition continues to impact your life and function.

Dr. Renk can help you to better understand your autoimmune condition and explore treatment options to alleviate your chronic pain and other symptoms, from supported physical therapy to medication management.

Treatment and support for your back pain

Whether your back pain is due to a common muscle strain or ligament sprain, simple or complex spinal issues, or some other cause, Dr. Renk and her team at Alpenglow Pain & Wellness provide the support and interventional expertise you need.

We offer or refer for treatments including physical therapy; bracing; regenerative platelet-rich plasma therapy and stem cell therapy; steroid injections, spinal cord stimulation; and conventional and cooled radiofrequency treatment, as well as pain psychology support and forms of alternative medicine like acupuncture.

Dr. Renk diagnoses causes of back pain using comprehensive physical examinations, imaging exams like X-rays and MRIs, and other specialized exams as required to determine the reason for your symptoms. 

Schedule your initial consultation with Dr. Renk over the phone today, or request your appointment online now.