What is Dorsalgia - Meaning, Definition, Unspecified, Icd10, Treatment

Dorsalgia is a group of disorders characterized by mild to moderate or intense pain that emerges from
muscles nerves or joints associated with spine. The pain can be constant or intermittent, localized or diffuse. It may have stinging or burning characteristics. If it is connected to cervical bone then this pain may transmit to extremities with sensation of numbness.[1]


  1. What is Dorsalgia
  2. Dorsalgia Meaning
  3. Dorsalgia Definition
  4. Dorsalgia ICD 10
  5. Dorsalgia Symptoms
  6. Dorsalgia Causes
  7. Dorsalgia Types
  8. Dorsalgia Treatment
  9. Dorsalgia Pictures

What is Dorsalgia


Dorsalgia is a group of disorders characterized by mild to moderate or intense pain that emerges from
muscles nerves or joints associated with spine. The pain can be constant or intermittent, localized or diffuse. It may have stinging or burning characteristics. If it is connected to cervical bone then this pain may transmit to extremities with sensation of numbness.[2]

Dorsalgia Meaning

Dorsalgia is a technical term that is derived from two words "dorsal" means back or spine and "algia" means pain. So, the exact meaning of dorsalgia is back pain, backache or spine pain. Dorsalgia covers a group of rheumatic disorders that are characterized by pain and associated with either spinal muscles, bones, nerves or joints.[3]

Dorsalgia Definition

Dorsalgia can be defined as stinging or burning like sensation of pain in back or spine that radiates from spinal nerves, vertebral column, spinal muscles or other anatomical structures associated with spinal column. Dorsalgia is a generic term to define spinal pain or backache but this pain may be due to number of reasons like osteoporosis, kyphosis, lordosis, sciatica, lumbago, sprains, disc slip or vertebral column injury.

Dorsalgia ICD 10

ICD or International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision, Clinical Modification (ICD-10-CM) is a medical nomenclature or system used by health care professionals to bifurcate and assign code to each medical term either it is related to diagnosis, treatment, symptoms, preventions etc. Similarly dorsalgia is also included in this system of ICD 10. These code include

M54  Dorsalgia
M54.8 Other dorsalgia
M54.80 Other dorsalgia, multiple sites in spine
M54.81 Other dorsalgia, occipito-atlanto-axial region
M54.82 Other dorsalgia, cervical region
M54.83  Other dorsalgia, cervicothoracic region
M54.84  Other dorsalgia, thoracic region
M54.85 Other dorsalgia, thoracolumbar region
M54.86  Other dorsalgia, lumbar region
M54.87 Other dorsalgia, lumbosacral region
M54.88 Other dorsalgia, sacral and sacrococcygeal region
M54.89 Other dorsalgia, site unspecified
M54.9 Dorsalgia, unspecified
M54.90 Dorsalgia, unspecified, multiple sites in spine
M54.91 Dorsalgia, unspecified, occipito-atlanto-axial region
M54.92 Dorsalgia, unspecified, cervical region
M54.93 Dorsalgia, unspecified, cervicothoracic region
M54.94 Dorsalgia, unspecified, thoracic region
M54.95 Dorsalgia, unspecified, thoracolumbar region
M54.96 Dorsalgia, unspecified, lumbar region
M54.97 Dorsalgia, unspecified, lumbosacral region
M54.98 Dorsalgia, unspecified, sacral and sacrococcygeal region
M54.99 Dorsalgia, unspecified, site unspecified

Dorsalgia Symptoms

Clinically dorsalgia symptoms may variate from patient to patient depending upon the underlying cause. However, some commonly observed symptoms of dorsalgia stinging or burning like pain, difficulty in changing posture, difficulty in bending upper body, intense pain in case of pinched nerve, difficulty in walking without support etc.

Dorsalgia Causes

There are several common causes of low back and leg pain e.g for adults under age 50, these include disc herniation and degenerative disc disease, in adults over 50 years, common causes include osteoarthritis and spinal stenosis. However, some researchers believe that 90% of back pain resulting from a tension syndrome which are caused by stress and emotional disturbance.[4]

Dorsalgia Types

Dorsalgia multiple sites in spine
This kind of dorsalgia belongs to vertebral column and inside the vertebral column.

Dorsalgia occipito-atlanto-axial region
This kind of dorsalgia belongs to neck area because atlas and axis in particular work with the ligaments to move the neck.

Dorsalgia cervical region
This is another form of neck dorsalgia that is confined to cervical bone and also termed as cervicalgia.

Dorsalgia cervicothoracic region
When dorsalgia is confined to both thoracic and cervical region then it is known as cervicothoracic dorsalgia.

Dorsalgia thoracic region
This kind of dorsalgia is only confined to thoracic region and known as thoracic dorsalgia.

Dorsalgia thoracolumbar region
It involves two regions thoracic and lumbar region that's why it is known as thoracolumbar region. 

Dorsalgia lumbar region
This kind of dorsalgia is only confined to lumbar region or lower portion of vertebral column and known as thoracic dorsalgia.

Dorsalgia lumbosacral region
Dorsalgia originating from lumbar and sacral region is know as lumbosacral dorsalgia.

Dorsalgia sacral and sacrococcygeal region
Dorsalgia that originates from sacral region and coccyx or tailbone is termed as sacrococcygeal dorsalgia.

Dorsalgia unspecified
According to international classification of diseases that does not classified elsewhere should be placed into dorsalgia unspecified.

Dorsalgia Treatment

There are number of treatment options available for dorsalgia treatment but proper diagnosis of disease makes more easy to pick best available treatment option.

Therapeutic Treatment

Therapeutic treatment includes medications such as muscle relaxants, pain relieving medicines, anti-convulsants to relieve nerve pain. These medications should be used only when your health care provider suggest you. Proper diagnosis before starting therapeutic treatment is very necessary to make therapeutic treatment successful.[5]

Surgical Treatment

There are several different types of surgery on the spine to treat a variety of back problems. Some of the most common forms are:

Replacement by artificial disc:

This kind of surgery has recently been used for treatment of low back pain caused by a damaged spinal disc. This surgery is now becoming more common.

Discectomy / microdiscectomy :

Microdisectomy is usually used to treat pain (especially one that radiates to arms or legs) caused by a herniated disc.

Quifoplastia / Vertebroplasty :

Quifoplasty or vertebroplasty  is a surgical procedure procedure used to treat pain arising from osteoporotic compression fractures.

Stimulation of the spinal column :

In this kind of treatment an electrical device is used to block the pain signals to the brain.

Spinal fusion :

Spinal fusion is used to treat chronic or acute kind of dorsalgia caused by degenerative disc disease, spondylolisthesis or deformities caused by scoliosis .

Life style Management

The main goals in the treatment of dorsalgia are:

  • Achieve maximum reduction in pain intensity as quickly as possible
  • Restore the patient to his normal activities
  • Help you deal with residual pain
  • Help you with the side effects of therapy
  • To facilitate the patient's passage through legal and socioeconomic impediments to their recovery.[6]

Other Treatment Options

Other treatment options include physiotherapy, massage with hot and cold pack, hot water bath , spine based exercises etc.

Dorsalgia Pictures

Dorsalgia Meaning, Definition, Unspecified, Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

Dorsalgia Meaning, Definition, Unspecified, Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

Dorsalgia Meaning, Definition, Unspecified, Symptoms, Causes, Treatment


1.  Acute inflammatory dorsalgia [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21146352]

2.  Low Back Pain: The Potential Contribution of Supraspinal Motor Control and Proprioception.


4. Mechanical Low Back Pain Differential Diagnoses [https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/310353-differential]

5. Endogenous pain modulation profiles among individuals with chronic pain: Relation to opioid use. [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30385319]

6.  Managing your chronic back pain [https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000516.htm]

Dorsalgia Unspecified - Definition, Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

Dorsalgia is defined as a collection of disorders related to spine. These disorders are about pain (mild to moderate even intense) which originate from muscular nerves and joints. These nerves and joints are attached to spine. There is classification of pain that it may be constant or intermittent, may confined to one part or travel through body. Pain may impart stinging effect or burning sensation. If pain is in cervical bone then it may spread to extremities and cause numbness. Dorsalgia is the combination of two words i.e. dorsal means back or spine and algia means pain.

As the name shows it is associated with back pain, backache or spine pain. Basically Dorsalgia is collection of rheumatic diseases. There are many reason behind back pain like osteoporosis, kyphosis, lordosis, sciatica, lumbago, sprains, disc slip or injury in vertebral column. ICD(abbreviated as international classification system) is used by medical practitioner or health care providers to assign codes to different diseases. As Dorsalgia is collection of disorders related to spine that’s why it has many codes associated with each type of pain. For example M54.82 is the code of Dorsalgia in cervical region and M54.83 is code of Dorsalgia in cervicothoracic region.

Dorsalgia Unspecified - Definition, Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

Dorsalgia Unspecified Symptoms

As discussed earlier, Dorsalgia is associated with spine pain so its main symptom is pain. But type of pain varies person to person. Symptoms also vary according to underlying cause. Some common type of pain reported are stinging pain sensation, burning pain, and intense pain which become unbearable for patient. Other symptoms include

  • Patient may feel difficulty in changing posture.
  • Patient is not able to bend down easily and then get up straight.
  • He cannot even walk properly with pain.
  • If there is a pinched nerve, then patient will face intense pain.
  • Patient find it difficult to walk without support.

Dorsalgia Unspecified Causes

There may be many causes behind lower back pain and leg pain. In adults, below 50 years of age can have disc herniation and degenerative disc diseases as main cause behind backache. Osteoarthritis and spinal stenosis are common causes reported in people with above 50 years of age. Some scientists after vast research state that about 90 percent of back pain is caused by tension syndrome. Tension syndrome is associated with pain which occur due to different stress and emotional disturbance. Some rheumatic diseases can also be main cause behind back pain like sciatica and lumbago.

Dorsalgia Unspecified Treatment

There are a no. of treatment options regarding Dorsalgia according to type of pain and leading cause behind it. Accurate diagnosis is required to pick best treatment option. There are two main treatment options 1st is therapeutic treatment and 2nd one is surgical treatment. Therapeutic treatment involve medicines like muscle relaxant and pain relievers etc. Surgical treatment involve some sub categories which are:

  • Replacement of disc with artificial one.
  • Discectomy or micro discectomy.
  • Quifoplastia or vertebroplasty
  • Simulation of spinal column.
  • Spinal fusion.

The selection of type of treatment depends upon condition of patient and underlying cause behind it.

Dorsalgia Treatment Options

Dorsalgia means back pain or spine pain. As there are different sections of spine, so treatment will be selected according to the section causing pain. Treatment type is also selected on the basis of etiology. Accurate diagnosis is considered 1st step to choose treatment option. Dorsalgia have following types according to section of spine causing pain:

  • Cervical Dorsalgia
  • Cervicothoracic Dorsalgia
  • Thoracic Dorsalgia
  • Thoracolumbar Dorsalgia
  • Lumbar Dorsalgia
  • Lumbosacral Dorsalgia

There are two main treatment options of Dorsalgia i.e. therapeutic treatment and surgical treatment.

Dorsalgia Treatment Options

Dorsalgia Treatment Options

Dorsalgia Therapeutic treatment 

It mainly involves medications. Patient will 1st try to cure it on its own with the help of over the counter drugs (OTC Drugs) and if these over the counter drugs do not work then patient seek physician guidance. Over the counter drugs involve:

Pain Relievers: category of pain relievers involve NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like ibuprofen with brand name Advil, Motrin, IB etc. or naproxen sodium with brand name Aleve. These medicines are preferred to treat acute back pain. Physician instructions are strictly required regarding dosage of ibuprofen and naproxen sodium because their over dosage can cause serious side effects. If patient do not get relief with these over the counter drugs then he should consult doctor for prescription NSAIDS.

Muscle relaxants: muscle relaxant drugs are preferred for mild to moderate pain. Muscle relaxants cause dizziness and induce sleep.

Topical Pain Relievers: topical pain relievers are commonly used now a days for back pain because of easy application. It involves creams, ointments and sprays.

Narcotics: narcotics are not available over the counter because their administration need close supervision. Codeine and hydrocodone are common examples.

Anti-Depressants: anti-depressants drugs are used for chronic back pain. Low dose is required to treat pain because increased dose can cause dependence. Common examples are tricyclic anti-depressants i.e. amitriptyline.

Injections: injections are the least option in therapeutic treatment. When other forms of drugs get failed then doctor prefer injection of an anti-inflammatory drug e.g. cortisone.

Dorsalgia Surgical Treatment

Surgical treatment require accurate diagnosis. Selection of type of surgical treatment depends upon etiology. Main types of surgical treatment are:

Artificial Disc Replacement: Disc replacement is performed when diagnosis shows dislocation of disc or damaged disc. It was rare but now a days a lot of people with Dorsalgia are preferring artificial disc replacement. In this procedure damaged disc is replaced by an artificial one.

Micro Discectomy: Micro discectomy is performed when disc herniation is diagnosed. In this procedure, herniated disc is removed completely.

Vertebroplasty: Vertebroplasty is performed when osteoporosis is diagnosed as etiology. This procedure will only slow down osteoporosis instead of total cure.

Electrical Stimulation: In this procedure, an electrical device is placed on nerves taking signals to brain. This device will block those pain signals and relief pain.

Spinal Fusion: This procedure is performed in different conditions of Dorsalgia like degenerative disc disease and spondylolisthesis. In this procedure, the disc causing pain is completely removed and its adjacent upper and lower discs are fused together to relief pain completely.

Dorsalgia Types

Dorsalgia is a term which define back pain or spine pain. It involves vertebral column. Vertebral column have different sections which are associated with different regions of body. Vertebral column consist of many discs of different regions i.e. cervical region, lumbar region, thoracic region and sacral region. Dorsalgia is divided into many types according to region involved, location of pain and injury. Types of Dorsalgia are as follows:

Cervical Dorsalgia

Cervical region is the upper most part of vertebral column. This region is attached to neck and pain originates from neck region in this type of Dorsalgia. Basic etiology behind cervical Dorsalgia may be an injury in cervical discs or any degenerative disease of the cervical spine. If nerves get involved in injury or degeneration of cervical spine then intense pain may radiate downward to shoulder and then arms and hands. Cervicalgia is another term to define cervical Dorsalgia.

Dorsalgia Types

Cervicothoracic Dorsalgia

This type of Dorsalgia involves two regions of vertebral column i.e. cervical and thoracic region. Injury or disc dislocation may occur in the mid-section of both regions.

Thoracic Dorsalgia

In this type of Dorsalgia, only thoracic region of vertebral column is involved. It is not a common site for Dorsalgia because it lies just below the cervical region and least used spinal structure in the body. Or we can say that thoracic Dorsalgia is a rare type.

Thoracolumbar Dorsalgia

This type of Dorsalgia involve two regions of vertebral column i.e. thoracic spine and lumbar region of vertebral column. Vertebral discs of both regions are effected in injury. Pain may occur in upper and lower region of vertebral column in this type of Dorsalgia.

Lumbar Dorsalgia

Lumbar Dorsalgia involves only lumbar region of vertebral column. Lower back pain is associated with it. It is the mostly used section of vertebral column and is more prone to injuries and muscle tearing. It is most common type of Dorsalgia.

Lumbosacral Dorsalgia

Lumbosacral Dorsalgia is another type of Dorsalgia which involve two regions of vertebral column i.e. lumbar spine and sacral region. Sacral region is the lower most region of vertebral column.
These are the types of Dorsalgia which should be completely understood to treat them perfectly. Each type of Dorsalgia have its specific treatment option. According to research lower regions of vertebral column are more prone to injuries and accidents. People with Dorsalgia may experience different categories of pain.

Pain may stick to only one part of vertebral column or travel through body to other parts for example in case of cervical Dorsalgia, pain may originate from neck region and diffuse downwards to shoulder and then gradually effect arms and hands. Pain have other categories like mild to moderate pain, intense pain etc. pain in Dorsalgia may occur continuously or with minor episodes. In Dorsalgia both muscular and joint pain is involved. So it should be checked before starting treatment that either muscle or joint is associated with Dorsalgia. If joint is involved then surgical treatment is recommended while in muscle pain medications are preferred.

Neck Pain Relief an Alternative Approach

Alternative therapy is a term which describe any treatment or therapy which is used instead of medicinal therapy. When alternative therapy and medicinal therapy are used in combination then it is known as complementary medicine. There are variety of disciplines in in alternative therapy i.e. acupuncture, yoga, hypnosis, aromatherapy, herbal remedies, massage, guided imagery, chiropractic treatment, bio feedback, relaxation and many more. Evidence have been collected regarding success of above mentioned alternative methods for relief. Research is still going on to compare both conventional and alternative therapies. Here is the detail of above mentioned alternative therapies:

Mind-Body Therapies:

Mind body therapies involve therapy of mind which in turn relaxes body functions and symptoms. Various techniques are used to relax mind of people. Relaxation techniques are used abundantly. Meditation and guided imagery are also used to relief chronic pain. Patient’s mind is relaxed and do not response much to pain sensations. Biofeedback and hypnosis are also of great help in relieving pain.


Use of acupuncture is increasing day by day specially for relieving neck pain. It is considered best treatment for neck pain. It was believed that disease occur due energy imbalance in body. Disposable stainless stain small needles are used in acupuncture technique. These needles are used to stimulate body’s major 14 energy carrying channels. These needles will overcome disease by stimulating these energy channels. This is the basic principle of acupuncture on which it works. Likewise acupuncture stimulate release of chemical named endorphins to block pain sensation. There are many acu points which lies near nerves, so when they are stimulated people feel fullness of muscles. These muscles in turn stimulate endorphins which block pain sensations. Acupuncture is not only useful in treating neck pain but many other conditions can be treated with it.

Neck Pain Relief an Alternative Approach


Massage is another alternative therapy with positive result. Massage therapy is considered most effective for shorter period of time. Massage reduce muscle stress and relief pain. When massage is performed, blood circulation of neck increases which ultimately reduce tension in muscles and reduce pain. Massage can also eliminate those substances which are responsible for neck pain. Massage therapy is in use worldwide to relief chronic pain in neck region and back.


Yoga include some exercises of neck region which are guided by a physiotherapist. These exercises should be performed under supervision of trained professional. Some exercises are specified only for neck region to relief pain. As exercises increases blood circulation and ultimately reduce pain sensation. Yoga if continued for some months can completely eliminate neck pain.

Nutritional Supplements:

Nutritional supplements do not provide much benefit in relieving neck pain. But some evidences have been collected which prove that nutritional supplements work in reducing pain.

Tai-Chi Practice And Posture:

Tai chi is a collection of slow moving, low impact exercises. It is perfect for those who have pain in any region of their body specially neck region and find it hard to perform routine activities. Tai chi are not normal exercises but it is associated with fluid movement. So an instructor is required.

Back Stretches

When people feel pain and soreness in lower back of body they prefer to take bed rest. But only rest is not helpful in treating back pain. Exercise is considered a best way to treat back pain. Exercise may involve stretches, aerobic exercise or core strengthening exercises. Exercise not only treat back pain but also reduce chances of pain to occur again. Stretching exercise are of great help and benefit to reduce or completely eliminate back pain. It is believed that if exercise is continued for long term it can completely eliminate back pain. Stretching exercise provide instant relief to pain. There are many stretching exercises which are commonly performed for backache. Here are some tips which should be followed in exercise.

Patient have to hold himself in stretching position for at least 10 seconds and preferably 30 seconds. Because longer the patient hold stretching position fastest will be recovery.
Here are some stretching positions commonly used:

Back Stretches

Child’s Pose: it is believed that back muscles contract in pain and exercise help those muscles to relax by stretching and relief pain. In child’s pose patient bend down on his knees with spreaded palms on floor. Then try to sit back on his hips with burden on knees and extend arms forward with dropped head. Patient can place a pillow under his belly to have a soft stretch. He have to stay in this position for at least 10 seconds.

Cat/Cow Stretch: this type of stretching exercise is performed to reduce soreness and lengthen the contracted muscles of back. After arranging in child’s pose, patient should try to align his spine parallel to floor. Then patient have to move his back in rounds just like a cow or cat walks. This posture should be maintained for at least 5 seconds and then relax. Repeat this again and again.

Lower Back Twist: this exercise helps to relax glutes along with back muscles. In this exercise, patient have to lie down on floor with bended knees and feet flat on floor. Then spread his arms like in “T” position. After that patient have to roll his legs sideways and remain in this position for at least 10 seconds. He have to repeat this exercise in both directions i.e. left and right.

Knee To Chest Stretch: this exercise strengthen back muscles and relieve pain. In this exercise, patient have to lie down on his back flat on floor with his hands aligned parallel to body. Then he have to try to bend his knees upward and touch belly. He should hold this position for 20 to 30 seconds and then relax. Repeat it and try to perform 2 sets.

The Pelvic Tilt: due to pain in lower back region of body patient feels like his total pelvic area is immovable. The pelvic tilt help to regain pelvic movements. In this position patient lie down on his back with knees bended. He have to try to slightly raise upward his pelvic region against floor and stay in this position for at least 20 seconds.

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